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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    December 12, 2012
    12:00 - 5:00pm EST  

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will allow me to vote much deeper attention to a number of issues that have been a part of my senate service. among these are preventing the pro proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and developing more efficient ways to feed the world. i'm especially pleased that i'll be serving on the faculty of the university of indianapolis and helping that institution establish a washington internship program. i look forward to announcing additional endeavors of service in the coming weeks. my service in the senate would not have been possible without the encouragement and the constant support of my loving wife, shar, our four sons, mark, bob, john and david, and the entire lugar family, most of which is with us here in the galleries today. their strength and sacrifices have been indispensable to my
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public service. i'm also very much indebted to a great number of talented and loyal friends who have served with me in the senate, including, by my count, more than 300 senators, hundreds of personal and committee staff members, and more than a thousand student interns. in my experience, it is difficult to conceive of a better platform from which to devote one's self to public service and the search for solutions to national and international problems. at its best, the senate is one of the founders' most important creations. a great deal has been written recently about political discord in the united states, with some commentators judging that partisanship is at an all-time high. having seen quite a few periods in the congress when political struggles were portrayed in this
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way, i hesitate to describe our current state as the most partisan ever, but i do believe that as an institution, we have not lived up to the expectations of our constituents to make excellence in governance our top priority. many of us have had some type of executive experience as governors, mayors, corporation chiefs, cabinet officials. i had the good fortune of serving two terms as mayor of indianapolis prior to my senate service. and for the last 36 years, i've attempted to apply lessons learned during those early governing experiences to my work in the senate. as a mayor, my responsibility for what happened in my city was comprehensive and inescapable. citizens held the mayor's office accountable for the prosaic tasks of daily life, like trash collection, fixing potholes in the streets, snow removal, but
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also for executing strategies for the economic and social advancement of the city. in legislative life, by contrast, we are responsible for positions expressed through votes, cosponsorships, interviews and other means. it takes courage to declare dozens or even hundreds of positions and stand for office knowing that with each position, you are displeasing some group of voters. but we do our country a disservice if we mistake the act of taking positions for governance. they are not the same thing. governance requires adaptation to shifting circumstances. it often requires finding common ground with americans who have a different vision than your own. it requires leaders who believe, like edmond burke, that their
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first responsibility to their constituents is to apply their best judgment. it is possible to be elected and reelected again and again and gain prominence in the senate while giving very little thought to governance. one can even gain considerable notoriety by devoting one's career to the political aspects of a senator's job; namely, promoting the party line, raising money, focusing on public relations. responsibility for legislative shortcomings can be pinned on the other party or even intractable members of one's own party. none of us are above politics nor do the founders expect us to be, but obviously we should be aspiring to something greater than this. too often in recent years, members of congress have locked themselves in to a slate of
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inflexible positions, many of which have no hope of being implemented in a divided government. and some of these positions have been further calcified by pledges signed for political purposes. too often we have failed to listen to one another and question whether the orthodox views being promulgated by our parties makes strategic sense for america's future. the result has been intractablely negative public perceptions of congress. a rasmussen reports poll done just this month found that only 10% of likely voters gave congress a rating of excellent or good. for me, the irony is that having seen several generations of lawmakers pass through the body, i can attest that the vast majority are hardworking, generally interested in public service, and eager to contribute to the welfare of our country.
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often the public does not believe that. it's easier to assume that congressional failings arise from the incompetence or even the malfeasance of individual legislators. or perhaps, as some believe, washington, d.c. itself is corrupting. now, it's far more disconcerting to think that our democracy shortcomings are complex and devise simple solutions, but the founders were realists who understood the power of factionalism, parochialism, personal ambition. they understood that good intentions would not always prevail. and accordingly, they designed a system to check abuse and prevent power from accumulating in a few hands. but they knew that the efficient operation of such a republic would require a great deal of cooperation. they knew that it would require most elected officials to have a dedication to governance and
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they trusted that leaders would arise in every era to make their vision work. the senate has a unique role to play in good governance. we have attributes not possessed by the executive branch, including staying power. administrations turn over every four or eight years but senators can have careers spanning decades that allow them to apply expertise and political understanding to problems over many years, even as administrations come and go. we can also confer a bipartisan framework on a policy. even a small bipartisan group of senators cooperating on a difficult problem is a powerful signal of the possibility for unifying solution. my hope is that senators will devote much more of their energies to governance. in a perfect world, we would not
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only govern, we would execute a coherent strategy. that's a very high bar for any legislative branch to clear, but we must aspire to it in cooperation with the president, because we are facing fundamental changes in the world that will deeply affect america's security and standard of living. the list of such changes is long but it starts in asia with the rise of china and india as economic, political and military powers. the obama administration has conspicuously announced a pivot to asia. at the center of this pivot is china, which exists as both an adversary to certain u.s. interests and a fellow traveler sharing mutual goals and vulnerabilities on others. the ongoing challenge will be for the united states to disce discern, sometimes issue by issue, whether china is an
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adversary or a partner. and this calibration will impact america's relations with the rest of asia and may ultimately determine prospects for war or peace in this world. while visiting indonesia, thailand and the philippines in october, i was reminded of the economic vitality of southeast asia and the fact that the ten countries comprising asean represent now the fourth largest export market of the united states. these countries are center stage to the circumstances with china. we must stand firm with our friends throughout asia and actively pursuit prospects for free trade and open sea lanes and other policies that will strengthen america's economic growth. more broadly, we face the specter of global resource constraints, especially deficiencies of energy and food
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that can stimulate conflict and deepen poverty. we have made startling gains in domestic energy production but we remain highly vulnerable still to our dependency on oil. and perhaps equally important, even if we are able to produce more energy at home, we cannot isolate ourselves from energy-driven shocks to the global economy. in other words, we have to cooperate with other nations in improving the global system of manufacturing and moving energy supplies. currently, a key to this is helping to ensure the completion of the southern energy corridor serving central and southeastern europe and unleashing our own liquified natural gas exports to address the energy vulnerabilities of our closest allies. the potential global crisis over food production is less well understood.
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whereas research is opening many new frontiers in the energy sphere, the productivity of global agriculture will not keep up with projected food demand unless many countries change their policies. this starts with a much wider embrace of agriculture technology, including genetically modified techniques. the risks of climate change intensify this imperative. even as we deal with potential resource constraints, our country remains vulnerability to -- remains vulnerable to terrorism and assymetric warfare. access to the internet and social media has deeply altered international politics. in most cases for the better, but it's also contributed to instability, to sudden upheavals, like the arab spring. it's allowed destructive terrorist movements like al qaeda to franchise themselves. it's intensified risks of cyber
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attacks, espionage and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. the potential catastrophe remains of a major terrorist attack on america and employing weapons of mass destruction. and if that happens, in addition to the lives lost, our expectations for economic growth and budget balancing could be set back by even a decade or more. having devoted considerable time to this problem, my experience is that there are no silver bullets. protecting the united states from weapons of mass destruction is a painstaking process that every day must employ our best technological, diplomatic and military tools. amidst all these security risks, we must maintain the competitiveness of the united states in the international community. we should see education, energy efficiency, access to global markets, the attraction of
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immigrant entrepreneurs, and other factors as national security issues. my own view is that the fundamentals of american society still offer us the best hand to play in global competitiveness. no other country can match the quality and variety of our post-secondary education. we have the broadest scientific and technological base and the most advanced agricultural system. our population is younger and more mobile than most other industrialized nations. we still can flourish in this global marketplace if we nurture the competitive genius of the american people that has allowed us time and time again to reinvent our economy. but we must deal with failures of governance that have delayed resolutions to obvious problems. no rational strategy for our long-term growth and security should fail to restrain current
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entitlement spending. and no attempt to gain the maximum strategic advantage from our human resource potential should fail to enact comprehensive immigration reform. that resolves the status of undocumented immigrants and encourages the most talented immigrants to contribute to america's future. faced with immense responsibilities, there is a need to elevate our senate debate. it is vital that the president and congress establish a closer working relationship, especially on national security. this is not just a matter of process. it's necessary to undergird national unit in the event of severe crises, such as war with iran or another catastrophic terrorist attack. this cooperation depends on congressional leaders who are willing to set aside partisan advantage and on administration
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officials who understand the benefits of having the support of congress as worth the effort it takes to secure it. currently, the national security dialogue between the president and congress, in my judgment, is one of the least constructive i have ever witnessed. there is little foundation for resolving national security disputes or even the expectation that this can occur. before the next niervelings the president must be -- before the next 9/11, the president must be willing to call republicans to the oval office to establish the basis for a working partnership in foreign policy and republicans must shal be willino suspend reflective opposition that serves no purpose but to limit their own role in strategic questions. all parties should recognize the need for unity in the coming year when events in iran, syria, afghanistan, north korea, and other locations may test
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american national security in extreme ways. i commend each of you, my senate colleagues, for the commitment that led you to stand for election in the united states senate to begin with. running for office is a difficult endeavor that is usually accompanied by great personal risk and cost. each one of you is capable of being a positive force for changing the tone of debate in our country. each one of you has a responsibility not only to act with integrity and represent your constituents but also to make informed and imaginative choice on which good governance for our country depends. i am optimistic about our country's future. i believe that both internal divisions and external threats can be overcome. the united states will continue to serve as the inspiration for people seeking peace, freedom,
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and economic prosperity. and the united states senate should and will be at the forefront of this advancement. may we seek each day from god our creator the wisdom and the will to do our best in the governance of our country. and may god continue to bless the united states of america. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to honor the servicservice of senator richarr and to pay tribute to his legacy. i have served alongside senator lugar as the junior senator from indiana during my two tours of service here in the united states senate. all of us who seek public service want to make a difference, and most certainly senator lugar has done that. at an early age, dick lugar
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developed a passion for knowledge. a native of indianapolis, he was valedictorian at short ridge, high school. then and still a distinguished institution where knowledge is at the forefront of everything done in that school. one of our former members, ted stevens, is also a graduate of short ridge high school. dick lugar went on then to become valedictorian in college when he graduated from venison university with a degree in economics. he went on to attend college as a rhodes scholar. today he is one of the most decorated scholars in the united states national. -- in the united states senate with 46 honor rare ray degrees from 16 states and the district of columbia. now, following these most impressive academic
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achievements, senator lugar spent many years in the united states navy, ultimately serving as an intelligence briefer for the chief of naval operations. i would say the navy and admiral burke chose the best person they could for that particular job. dick lugar quickly became well-known not only his hard work but his leadership act an. senator lugar then returned to inwhere a -- returned to indiana where he served two terms u there is no question that dick lugar is recognized as one of the most influential and visionary mayors indiana as ever seen and i would suggest maybe the country has ever seen. now, having just left military service myself, i was working full-time and attending law school, indiana law school, at
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night and this didn't leave much time for marcia and me to enjoy the amenities of indianapolis. but, frankly, there were very few to enjoy at that particular time. it was then that our newly elected mayor began to remarkable transformation of i understan--of indianapolis whice one of the most attractive and livable cities in america. he worked with the general asystemmably, then-governor ed whitcom to merger the governments of indianapolis and marion county to provide common, essential services more efficiently, a concept then called "unigov." it wasn't without controversy because of dick lugar -- but because of dick lugar's vision, careful negotiations and decisive action, indianapolis became a model for other cities are across the nation. when the law took effect in
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1970, indianapolis' population rose from 476,000 to 793,000. moving from the 26th-largest city to one of the nation's dozen largest cities literally overnight. when i think of the numerous, positive changes in indianapolis over the past 40 years, i see the fulfillment of the vision of then-mayor dick lugar. now, the midwest has a way of producing men and women of sense and decency. not all of us fall in that category. sometimes that sense is questioned. but we do have individuals who have the ability to see to the heart of a matter and to resolve and find a way to resolve a problem. such skill is extremely valuable in the united states senate, a body that by its very designing -- design is posed to foster compromise between legislators on issues before the nation.
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and so it was a natural progression that following his success as mayor, dick lugar's next job would be serving hoosiers as a united states senator. since 1977, senator lugar has represented hoosiers and served our nation admirably. without question, senator lugar is the type of lawmaker and leader who works hard to bring both parties together, find common ground, and pass needed legislation. through -- though his contributions are many, including his long and valued service on the senate agriculture committee, senator lugar's most important role in the senate has to be his leadership in the senate foreign relations committee. as a two-time chairman of this committee, he has been one of the most influential minds on foreign policy in the united states senate's history. he has worked higherlessly on policies and legislation to promote arms control, control
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the dismantling of nuclear arms, and address the global food crisis, among others. among his many accomplishments in the field of foreign relations, his signature piece of legislation, no doubt, will be the cooperative threat-reduction program more commonly known as nunn-lugar. when senator lugar joined the foreign relations committee in 1979, he traveled to the former soviet union on multiple occasions to gain a better understanding of how the united states could secure and dismantle weapons of mass destruction. his experiences led him to champion the landmark legislation that successfully resulted in the deactivation of nuclear warheads, making this world a safer place. to date the nunn-lugar program has deactivated more than 7,500 warheads that were once aimed at the united states, a contribution to which americans can never give enough thanks.
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over his 36 years in this institution, senators from both sides of the aisle have considered dick lugar a trusted resource when it comes to foreign policy and many other important issues. he has been a consistent resource for those who seek thoughtful answers to difficult political questions. when i first arrived here in 1989, senator lugar and i operated a unique joint office arrangement in indiana, sharing office space and staff in our state. many of our colleagues were surprised by this arrangement, but dick lugar and i like to tell hoosiers they're getting twice the service for half the price. all those who work in this chamber can learn from dick lugar's position passion for -- passion for public service. his sincere desire to reach across the aisle, to find common ground, and his unique talent for forging coalitions and
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bringing people together to accomplish big things. a tribute to senator lugar would be incomplete without recognizing the support of his wife charlene, his four sons and extended family. public service demands -- makes demands on our families and their sacrifice and support plays an important role in any senator's success. it has been an honor for hey to work with senator lugar. i am thankful for his service to indiana and our country. senator lugar, marcia and i wish you and char and your family nothing but the best as you begin this next chapter in your life. you've dedicated so much of your service to our country. you've outlined many other ways you will be continuing to do that that's of great benefit to our nation and to our state. i'm certain that we will continue to learn and benefit from your lifetime of public service. i know my colleagues join me in
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thanking senator lugar for his many years of dedicated and distinguished service. it has been a pleasure to serve as the junior senator from indiana under your leadership. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. conrad: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: mr. president, let me add my words of commendation to those of senator coats for senator lugar. i've often joked with him that he's been my secretary of state while i've served here in the united states senate because you could count on senator lugar to give good, unbiased advice on complicated foreign relations issues. and we will very much miss senator lugar's voice here in the united states senate and
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also his better half, char lugar, who i think we all know is a bright light. so, senator lugar, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you, and i know that your voice will continue to be heard on the important issues of the day. so thank you for your service to our country and to your state, and thank you for being a good friend to me. mr. president, we have this long tradition in the senate of senators giving farewell remarks. i want to alert colleagues that mine will be especially long, so you might want go have lunch and then come back. so i don't consider this my final speech, because i'm still hopeful that we will reach an agreement on a farm bill. the distinguished chair is here. i hope we can reach agreement on averting the fiscal cliff, because that's important to the country. so i hope we'll have additional
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chances to communicate with colleagues and the public before we're done. but this is my farewell remarks, observations on 26 years of service here, and it has been an incredible experience. first thing i want to do is say thank you, to you the people of north dakota for having -- thank you to the people of north dakota for having confidence to send me to represent them in the united states national. i was 38 you about but i looke, and people of north dakota elected me in a stunging upset of a long-established incumbent, and i treasure the confidence that they have had in me. i also want to thank my colleagues for the responsibilities that they've given me, the leadership team, senator reid, senator schumer, senator murray, the confidence that they have had in me.
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and my staff, i have been so blessed to have people who have been with me, in many cases, for more than 20 years. my chiefs of staff, jim margolis, who has been one of the media gurus in the country now doing much of the advertising for the president in this last campaign. david herring, kent hall, who died on timely death working for me, care are garland, bob vanhuevland, wally, my legislative director who was with me for more than 20 years, tom mar, jerry gaginas, we all fondly call "mom," because she cracks the whip and makes sure the trains run on time. mary naylor, also has been with me more than 20 years. my deputies there, john rider
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and joel friedman, who have done extraordinary work on behalf of the people of this country. stew nagerka, who is going to help me with charts today, my longtime communication communics director, and so many more. and most  of all to my family, my wife lucy, who has been my partner through all this, was my campaign manager when i first ran for the united states senate, my daughter jessie, who in in many ways has perhaps sacrificed the most because when you're in this job, you miss birthdays, you miss other important events. but she has been a great daughter, and she was here last night for our farewell party. and we had a lovely time. our son, ivan, and his wife kendra, who are in oregon where they have a small farm tawld tipping tree farm. we wish they could be here
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today, our grandson carter, who is a proud member of the university of oregon marching band, the ducks, who served as an intern for me -- not at government expense, by the way, that was at our expense. and our little dog dakota, who has become sort of a mascot of the united states senate. brian williams when he did a show on a day in the life of senate concluded that program by calling dakota the 101st senator. and, you know, i think he will be missed perhaps more than i am as i leave the senate. in 1964 i came here, i sat up in the gallery, in fact, it was the gallery right up here. and i was 16 years old. and i watched a debate in the united states senate. it was on civil rights. hubert humphrey was leading that debate. and it so inspired me that i thought, you know, someday i'd like to be down on that floor and i would like to debate the
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great issues of the day and i would like to represent the people of north dakota. and so i went home and wrote out on the back of an envelope that i would run for the united states senate in 1986 or 1988 and i ran in 1986. and was successful. that is the power of a plan. to you young pages who are here, if any of you seek to be in the united states senate someday, have a plan. because there are so many people who sort of drift through life without one, if you have a plan, you will be light years ahead. and in that race as i indicated my now wife, lucy, was my campaign manager. we won what was then believed to be the biggest political upset in the history of our state. and i was proud of that victory and proud to have a chance to represent north dakota here.
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i think we all know that our country needs a plan now. and we know that plans have worked before. i was here in 1993 when we had just come off the largest deficit in the history of the united states, the country was in doldrums, the economy was just plugging along, not doing very well, just had a weak recovery from a deep recession. and we passed a plan to get the country back on track. we did it the old fashioned way. we made tough decisions, some that were unpopular, but it was the right thing to do and it worked. we balanced the budget, we had the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth in the nation's history, 23 million jobs were created, and we were actually paying down the debt of the united states at the end of the clinton administration. and we did it again when
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disaster struck my state in 1997, one of the worst disasters ever in north dakota, a 500-year flood that followed the worst winter storm in 50 years, many of you may recall the images from that disaster when firemen were fighting an enormous conflagration in downtown grand forks in the middle of a blizzard, and a massive flood. grand forks was devastated. again, we had a plan, a $500 million disaster recovery plan that became a billion-dollar plan and it worked and we did it the old fashioned way, we made tough decisions, some that were unpopular, but it was the right thing to do and it worked. the community just held a recognition event for me this last weekend. and the leadership of the community was there, and
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various aspects of the community. reporting on the remarkable recovery in grand forks. it is really i think, an example of what can be done when government responds and does so intelligently and effectively. now we face a new challenge. we have a fiscal cliff or a fiscal cliff curb or whatever one terms it, but what we know is if we fail to act, we could be pushed back into recession. our country needs a plan. a plan to get us back on track, to revitalize economic growth, to secure our long-term economic future, and to get the country moving again. and we can do it. we've done much tougher things in the past. you know, i hear people being critical sometimes when they leave here of this institution. let me say i'm not in their
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ranks. i leave this institution with enormous respect. the united states senate is the greatest deliberative body in the world, and the vast majority of my colleagues, i sincerely believe, are serious minded and have the best interest of the country at heart. i really believe the vast majority of my colleagues want to do what's right for the country. we have differences, enormous differences, about what's the right thing to do, but i have no doubt most of our colleagues are well intentioned. in many circles it's fashionable now to bash government and play down its importance. i personally think we'd be well -- we would be well to remember what it has accomplished. i can remember so well-being called to an emergency meeting in this building in the fall of
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2008. i was handed a note that i was urgently requested to come here. it was about 6:00 in the evening, and it was the last one to arrive. when i walked into the leader's office there were the leaders of the house and the senate, republicans and democrats, the secretary of the treasury from the bush administration, and the chairman of the federal reserve. well, i instantly understood something very serious was afoot. they closed the door and told us they were going to take over a.i.g., the large insurance company, the next day. they weren't there to ask for our approval or seek our agreement. they were there to tell us they were taking this step. and they told us they were taking this step because they believed if they did not, there would be a financial collapse in this country within days. and they gave great speaker's
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deskity -- great specificity if they failed to take the action they were about to do. the public reaction was harshly negative. the notion of the government of the united states bailing out a large private insurance company created controversy and criticism for almost every corner. ultimately, the rescue of that company cost $180 billion. a staggering sum. but you know what? we've just learned this week that the taxpayers will make money on the deal. yes, it cost us $180 billion. but the taxpayers are going to make $22 billion on the transaction. and if we hadn't done it, we
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would have risked going into a depression. so when people say there's no role for government or it should just be a limited, shrunken role, really? would we have wanted to stand by and risk this country going into another great depression? let's recall what that was like. more than 20% of the people in this country out of work. i know my open grandfather -- own grandfather who refused to take bankruptcy owned stock in the local bank. in those days you had unlimited liability. if you owned stock in a bank. so when there was a run on the bank, as there was, he was called to bring money to the bank. which he did. and he did it over and over. and it took him nine years to recover. people were hungry. people were desperate.
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that's what a depression is about. so when i reflect back to those decisions, i believe they were the right decisions to make, and it's not just my view. that's the view of two of the most distinguished economists in this country, mark zandi, who was a key economic advisor to john mccain in his presidential race, and alan blinder, the former deputy chairman of the federal reserve. here's what they say. without that federal response, we would have had eight million fewer jobs and 16% level of unemployment in this country, and we would have been in the second great depression. they call it depression 2.0. so, mr. president, let's remember where we were when president obama came to to office. the nation was facing the worst economic catastrophe since the great depression.
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in the fourth quarter of 2008, the economy shrunk at a rate of almost 9%. now, after the federal actions, positive economic growth returned in the third quarter of 2009, and we've now had 13 consecutive quarters of economic growth. now, we've come a long way. this is a remarkable turnaround in a very short time, measured against previous financial crises. in fact, there's been an academic study just completed that suggests typically it takes eight to ten years to recover from a financial crisis. so the recovery here, while not everything we would have hoped, is a dramatic turnaround. at the same time, our constituents know, and we know, that the price has been high. we know that we are currently
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borrowing 31 cents of every dollar that we spend. that's somewhat of an improvement because we were borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. so this is an improvement but we've got a long way to go. and the public understands that we face both a spending and a revenue problem. spending is near a 60-year high, as this chart shows. the red line is the spending line, the green line is the revenue line. but for those who say it's just a spending problem, i don't think the facts bear that out. because the revenue is near a 60-year low. i think most logical people would say you've got to work both sides of this equation. and when we look at our debt, we see that our gross debt has now surpassed 100% of our gross
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domestic product. there was a landmark work done just a couple of years ago by rogoff and reinhart. they looked at 200 years of economic history and they concluded once your debt exceeds 90% of your g.d.p., your future economic prospects are reduced and reduced significantly. future economic growth reduced by 25% to 33%. this is not just numbers on a page. this is a question of future economic opportunity. this growing debt is why many of us have called for action for a long time ago. in fact, it was six years ago this month that senator gregg and i came up with the idea of a commission to tackle the debt. that idea, ultimately led to the president appointing the simpson-bowles commission. its bipartisan report
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recommended $4 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way and i think in a fair way protected low-income programs, it actually improved the progressivity of the tax system quite significantly, and it was balanced between revenue and spending. other bipartisan groups have concluded the same thing, that we need spending restraint and we need revenue. so there's a critical role for government here. we've seen it in the past, we'll find it in the future. but i think we also have to acknowledge there are problems here. there are problems in this chamber. as proud as i am of this institution, and i will forever be, i have detected over the 26 years i've been here a change. and it's happened kind of
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gradually, but it's clearly happened. we spend now too much of our time seeking partisan advantage. and it happens on both sides. and it's all understandable. i understand it. i'm not being critical of individuals. we spend too little time trying to solve problems. we spend too little time in our caucuses, in our meetings, focused on how to solve the problems facing the country. i deeply believe that this observation is true. and i believe we can do better than this. the institutions of our government have a proud history. the genius of our founding fathers can be found in every part of our history. whether it was conquering the last great fretion or winning world war i and world war ii or launching a man into space or
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conquering diseases, our government has bettered the plight of mankind. we need that kind kind of focus and effort now to address our challenges. i'm confident that we can do this. but it's not enough to be confident. it's not enough to be hopeful. it requires a plan, and i'd like to take just the next few minutes to lay out my belief of what that plan should include. mr. president, much of what i will talk about reflects the work of the bowles-simpson commission, the group of six i've been a part of, the group of eight, but it starts looking at what both sides have laid down. republicans have laid down, a spending cut plan, the president has laid down a revenue plan. my own belief is we should take them both. we should take what the republicans have proposed on
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spending, with some modest modifications which i'll discuss, and we should take the president's plan on revenue. the president laid down a plan that said we ought to raise $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. boy, that sounds like an awful lot of money, doesn't it? $1.6 trillion. not billion, not million. trillion. and people will be quick to say oh, my god, that's the biggest tax increase history in of mankind. terrible. we can't do that. well, you know we need to put it in perspective. first thing we should recognize, this will take us to a revenue that is 19.9% of our g.d.p. the last five times we balanced the budget in this country, going back to 1969, we've been at 19.7%, 19.9%, 19.8%, 20.6%, 19.5%. does 19.9% kind of fit in there?
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these are the only times we've balanced the budget going back to 1969. and to put it in each more perspective, how much revenue are we going to raise over the next ten years without any change? well, here's the number. $37.4 trillion. nobody ever puts these things in perspective, these big numbers in relationship to what. $1.6 trillion is in relationship to $37.4 trillion. as a percentage, that is an increase of 4.3%. my goodness, we can't increase the revenue by 4.3% in this country over the next ten years? of course we can. of course we can. especially if it means we get our house in order and put the
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country on a firmer fiscal footing. and, you know, it doesn't just matter how much money you raise. it also matters how you raise it. we have got a tax code now that i can't defend. i can't defend. i took a study that was done by a man named martin sullivan last year. he did a very interesting thing. he looked at one building on park avenue in new york and he was able to do it because they happened to have the statistics that isolate that one building. do you know what he found? that the average income in that building was $1,167,000 for the year.
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$1,167,000. the average tax rate of the people in that building was 14.7%. the janitor in that building had an income of $33,000 and he paid a tax rate of 24.9%. is this fair? is it fair that people making $1.1 million paid a tax rate of 14.7% and the janitor who served them, earning $33,000 a year, paid a tax rate of 24.9%? well, i personally don't think so. and i know all the arguments. i've served on the finance committee. i've heard it all. the biggest reason for this differential, by the way, is not the earned income tax rate, which has had almost all of the attention in this national discussion. almost all of the attention has been on the earned income tax
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rate and raising it from 35% to 39.6%. almost no attention has been paid to the unearned income tax rate on capital gains and dividends. the unearned rate is currently 15%. that's what allows very wealthy people to pay a tax rate that is a fraction of those who work full time and are paying rates of 25%. so i hope that as we move to conclusion here, we'll pay a little more attention to the unearned rates. you know, the truth is, you could not go as much -- have as much of an increase as being proposed on the earned income side and have more of an
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increase on the unearned income side and you'd make the tax code more fair and you could raise the same amount of revenue. mr. president, so that's the revenue side. but the spending side, republicans have laid down, they've put out a proposal that asks for savings out of entitlements and other discretionary spending. and, you know, if you look at their proposal and you break it down, again, let's look at health care. we are going to spend $11 trillion over the next ten years on health care. republicans are proposing saving $600 million. if we had a compromise between republicans and democrats, let's say at $500 million, that would be a savings of, again, the magic 4%. we're going to increase revenue
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4%. if we had savings on health care of 4.5%, we would save $500 billion. now, i mean, i've just had conversations with colleagues who've told me, we can't possibly save $500 billion out of health care. just like people say, well, you can't possibly increase revenue $1.6 trillion. really? we can't save $500 billion out of a pot of money where we're going to spend $11 trillion? i don't think that's true. i think we can save $500 billion. and i'll tell you, there's somebody sitting on this floor that's got a pretty good idea how to do it. senator sheldon whitehouse has said to us over and over and over, we are spending more than any other country in the world as a share of our national income on health care. we're spending 18% of our g.d.p. on health care. no other country spends more
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than 11.5%. and the best minds in the country have told us we're wasting hundreds of billions of dollars in health care that don't improve health care outcomes at all. and if we would save money in overall health care, 40% of that savings would flow through to the federal government. senator whitehouse is right about this. we ought to focus like a laser on where the waste is. you don't need to increase the eligibility age for medicare. you absolutely do not have to do it to save $500 billion. but what it would do if you save $500 billion is it would keep the growth in health care spending about equal to the growth in the overall economy. that would stabilize the growth of health care spending. that would be a huge contribution to the economic
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competitive position of the united states. now, mr. president, the republicans have also said, hey, let's save $300 billion on domestic discretionary savings. now, i'd be the first to say, we've already had lots of savings on the discretionary accounts. we've saved over a trillion dollars in the discretionary accounts. but they say, okay, let's save another $300 billion. i think we should say, we'll do it if you go with us on the revenue. we'll do it. because that represents savings of 2.6% of the $11.6 trillion we're going to spend in the discretionary accounts over the next ten years. now, i think, you know, we've kind of gotten into a situation here where we use numbers that are absolutely big numbers but we don't put them in perspecti
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perspective. we can't save 2.6% out of the discretionary accounts? well, i believe we can. i absolutely believe we can. i believe we can save more out of defense. and i've been somebody, i've supported every penny. i didn't vote for going to war in iraq, thought that was a huge mistake, but i've supported every dollar of spending for our troops in the field. and i can tell you, as a budget committee chairman, we can save more money in defense. and there are lots of republicans who know we can do it, too. mr. president, other mandatory, that's another category the republicans said save $300 billion there. i think they're $100 billion too high because we've already saved over $100 billion out of other mandatory spending in the budget deal we did last year. so let's save $200 billion. that would represent, again, 4% of what we are projected to
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spend over the next ten years in other mandatory spending. $5.1 trillion is what we're programmed to spend. $200 billion of savings there would represent 4%. again, i've had colleagues tell me, well, we can't possibly save $200 billion. i've had some staff people tell me we can't save $200 billion. so i say, okay, how much are we going to spend? how much are we going to spend? that $200 billion represents 4% of what we're going to spend. we can't save 4%? yes, we can. yes, we k. you know, -- yes, w. you know, i was elected on the slogan in 1986 of, "yes, we can." and somebody else used that slogan a few years later. president obama used that slogan "yes, we can." called me up, said, "do i owe you royalties?" i said, no, i'm glad you're
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using it. but yes, we can. we need more of a "yes, we can" attitude around here. so when i rack it all up and i look at what we've already done, we've saved a trillion dollars in the budget control act of last year, and here -- here's other mandatory savings. i just talked about $129 billion that we've already done. $900 billion of other discretionary savings, already done. so we put that in the bank. we use that as the base. and you put it all together and here's what you've got. save another $200 billion on defense, have revenue of $1.6 trillion, which is the president's proposal, have $100 billion of non-defense. that gets you the $300 billion the republicans have asked for. on health care, you do $500 billion. that's close to what they've asked for. a hundred billion less. other mandatory, $200 billion. that's close to what they asked for.
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a hundred billion-dollar difference reflects what we've already done. interest savings, because you're spending less and you have more revenue, you save interest, $400 billion. that gives you a total of spending cuts of $1.4 trillion. you add in what's already been done, $1,05 trillion and you've got a total of $2,450,000,000,000. you add that to the $1.6 trillion of revenue and you've got $4,050,000,000,000 of savings. and then i personally would extend the payroll tax holiday because c.b.o. tells us on the tax side, that's the biggest bang for the buck in giving lift to the economy. it costs you $200 billion. for a net deficit reduction of $3,850,000,000,000. for those who are wondering, well, what happens to a.m.t. and
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what happens to the doc fix? we have those in the baseline so they're covered in this proposal. you can correct the alternative minimum tax, you can eliminate the doc fix, be done with it. mr. president, this magnitude of packages is precisely what was called for in the fiscal commission. in the moment-of-truth report, this is what they called for: i think they were right to call for it. i was proud to be part of that effort. i believe this is precisely what we need to do now. so that's the plan. now we need action. we should do it the old-fashioned way. we should make tough decisions, even some that will be unpopular. but it will be the right thing to do, and it will work.
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it'll stablize our debt and begin to bring it down. it will provide certainty to our economy. it will unleash, i believe, the $1.7 trillion that are on the balance sheets of our corporations. it will unlock the investment potential that lies all across this country. mr. president, let me just end as i began by simply saying "thank you." thank you to the people of north dakota, thank you to my colleagues, thank you to my staff, and, most of all, thanks to my family, to my wife lucy, to my daughter jessie, to our son ivan and his wife kendra and to our grandson carter. and to all my family members, my cousins who have been with me in
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every campaign, i will never forget your support on the one hand your help, and i will always consider serving here the honor of my life. i also want to thank my colleague, senator hoeven, who in the two years that he and i have overlapped has been a good colleague. i have enjoyed working with him very much. i just would close by noting, because many of you know i'm sort of a numbers guy, that i started these remarks in the 12th hour of the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012. i'm sure unanimousologists will make -- i'm sure numerologishs will make much of those remarks. i began this speech in the 12th hour of the 12th day of
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the 12th month of 201. -- of 2012. and i leave here ever grateful for the opportunity to serve. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. i want to take just a moment to thank our distinguished colleague and my dear friend for his wonderful service. we serve on the one hand three committees together. it's been my honor to serve on the committee that senator conrad chairs, the budget committee, and to have him serve as a senior member of the agriculture committee, which i chair, and to have both of us sit on the finance committee together. today he has done what he has always done for us, which is to provide vision, common sense, intelligence, and a lot of numbers. and they add up, and they make sense, and so in listening to
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senator conrad's farewell speech, i want to thank him again for giving us a path forward. this is someone who will forever be in the senate history record as one of the great statesmen of our country, someone with intelligence, respect on both sides, compassion, a fighter from north dakota like i've never seen, and someone who serves in the best tradition of what it means to be an honorable public servant. and so he's been a role model for me all the way through to this point and a dear friend, and i wish he and lucy and dakota, who is in fact the 101st senator, wonderful opportunities going forward in the future.
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the senator from north dakota will be greatly missed, but his contributions will forever being -- be a part of the positive tradition of this great body. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. whitehouse: i will yield to the distinguished chairman of the judiciary committee, the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: i thank my friend from rhode island. i will be very brief. i will be speaking later on about the senior senator from north dakota. mr. president, i've had the privilege to serve with several hundred senators since coming here, part of a very small list, those who are extraordinary both for their talents and for our personal friendship. kent conrad is in that short list very easily. in fact he defines it in many,
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many ways. because what we heard here, as i whispered to him a minute ago, it's nice to here a grown-up speak on the floor. and he has -- i've seen him reach across the aisle. we've been privileged -- both of us have been privileged to serve with fine senators from both parties here, but kent conrad is unique. marcel and i value more than i could possibly say here the friendship with kent and his wife lucy and the 101st senator dakota. as i said, i will speak later about this senator, but what we heard today was a real giant of the senate speaking, and i hope that all americans will listen
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to the lesson he gave us. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: before the junior senator from north dakota speaks -- understan and i appres courtesy for allowing us to make a few personal remarks before he speaks -- i wanted to say to my friend and my chairman, the senior senator from north dakota, that, yes, in the most obvious respect, he is leaving the senate, and we will be a smaller senate for his departu departure. but in some very important ways, kent conrad is not leaving the senate. i can assure him that for as long as i remain a united states senator and have the privilege to serve in this body, kent conrad will remain in the senate as an example that i will never
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forget as a young senator tutored by him on the budget committee. i can speak for myself when i say that, and i will only speak for myself when i say that, but i am absolutely confidence that there are dozens of other members of this body who can say exactly the same thing. and in that sense, kent conrad will continue to be an important part of this united states senate, and the effect that he will have in those years through the example that he has set echoed down the hallways of time by people who have had the opportunity to serve with him is going to be an immensely valuable one. the characteristickistics of diligence -- the characteristic sticks of diligence, an underrated attribute but an important one, of courtesy, of determination -- interesting combination, courtesy and determination, but chairman
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conrad knows very well when to yield and when to fight. there was a politician hundreds of years ago in another country who said, one ought not to be objecobst inate-- --and then he conditioned, unless one ought to be and then one ought to be unshakable. on the things that count, senator conrad has always been unshakable. where progress can be made, he has never been objec obstinate. it has been my honor to serve with him. mr. hoeven: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota is recognizedment. mr. hoeven: i rise to speak on behalf of the senior no senator from north dakota to thank him for his service to the people of north dakota and the people of this great nation. i think that this is 26 years that he has served in the senate, and he has always served
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with great distinction and great commitment. he has been a leader in agriculture, in energy, and in fiscal efforts, and many other areas. and i have to say on a personal note, since coming to the united states senate last year, he has reached out to me and to my family in a very warm and positive way, both personally and professionally. i would say the same about his wife lucy. i think in the finest tradition of the senate, in the tradition of bipartisanship, in the tradition of working together, in the tradition of truly caring and being committed to getting things done. and so it wasn't just that he reached out on a personal level and said, all right, you know, how can i be helpful? how can we work together?
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when i had questions or needed assistance, he was there, he was more than helpful. but, really, in terms of working on legislation that matters -- a farm bill, working together on the ag committee. senator conrad has an amazing knowledge of agriculture, and obviously incredible experience over the past 26 years building good farm policy for this nation. and so i worked with him on the ag committee -- the work with him on ag cheat was not only reward -- on the ag committee was not only rewarding, but an opportunity to craft good, long-term policy thor this country that will make -- for this country that will make a difference i start with that example because when you look at it, here we are at a time when we need good policy for our country but at the same time we need to find real savings that will help us address the deficit and debt of the and so we go to
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work on a farm bill that's not only responsive to the farmers and the ranchers, the producers of this country who produce the highest-quality food supply in the world at the lowest cost -- every american benefits from that. they wanted more crop insurance, we went to work. we improved the farm bill but at the same time saved $23 billion to help with the deficit and the debt. that's doing things the right way, and if you think about it and you went across all aspects of the things we're doing here, all the different types of policy that we have, if we could do the same thing, craft good policy and find real, meaningful savings on a bipartisan basis that empowers the very people that are impacted by that policy, the farmers and ranchers that do such a great job producing food, fuel, and fiber, but at the same time grow our economy, create a favorable balance of trade, an incredible number of jobs -- see, that's
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the kind of thing we have do. and i think that's the kind of thing, whether it was agriculture, whether it was energy, whether it was disaster assistance when we had flood and hurricanes, whether it was our military, i feel very pleased and honor to have had the opportunity to work with senator conrad on those types of issues to try to make a real difference for the people of this country. and so i think, as senator conrad departs the senate after 26 years -- think about it, 26 years here -- conducting himself in a professional manner, with respect for this institution, building relationships with senators on both sides of the aisle, but always with a commitment to the people of north dakota and this country, as i look at the legacy he leaves, i think one of the most important right now is the willingness to work in a bipartisan way to get things
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done, a practical, pragmatic approach that recognizes solutions are imperfect, but we have an obligation, in a bipartisan way, to come together and find real solutions for the people of the greatest nation on earth. and it's that legacy i think, that willing mistness to be bipartisan, that i saw up close and personal here every day. i think it's that legacy as well as many others that will continue here in this body when we think about senator kent conrad and his service to north dakota and his service to this great country. so i rise to say "thank you" on behalf of the people of north dakota and this country to my distinguished colleague for 26 years of dedicated service. thank you, good luck, and good bless in your future endeavors. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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mr. conrad: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: i want to thank senator hoeven, my colleague, for his kind words. i have really enjoyed the relationship. i think you can tell we worked together very well, and i hope that serves as an example to others of our colleagues, even if you're on other sides of the political side, you can work together. and you can get things done. i also want to thank senator leahy, my dear friend. he and his wife are very close friends of my wife and me. senator stabenow, the distinguished chairman of the agriculture committee; senator whitehouse, who served with me on the budget committee. i want to take special note of the friendships that we have enjoyed. senator stabenow, senator whitehouse will be friends of
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ours for as long as we are on this earth. i look forward to our continued relationship with the leahys, who as i've indicated, have become very dear personal friends. and again in closing with senator hoeven, you know the best parts of of service here are getting things done. senator hoeven has come with that attitude to this chamber, to get results for the people that we represent. and i appreciate that attitude and i appreciate the friendship. i say to the distinguished occupant of the chair, we have had a very good relationship as well. thank you so much for your service and thanks so much for this opportunity to have my farewell remarks before the senate on this, the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012. that's a remarkable set of
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coincidences. i thank the chair and yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. lieberman: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut is recognized. mr. lieberman: i ask further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lieberman: i thank the chair. mr. president, my fourth and final term as united states senator will soon come to an end. as i reflect on that reality, i am of course filled with many emotions, but the one that i feel most is gratitude. gratitude first to god, creator of life and law, whose -- without whose loving kindness nothing would be possible. gratitude to america, this extraordinary land of opportunity which has given someone like me so many opportunities. gratitude to the people of connecticut who have entrusted
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me with the privilege of public service for 40 years, the last 24 in the united states senate. gratitude to my senate colleagues whom i've come to know as friends and with whom it has been such an honor to serve. gratitude to all the people without whose help, hard work and support i never would have made it to the senate or stayed here. the gifted and hardworking staff in connecticut and washington who supported, informed and enriched my service here, and the volunteers in my campaigns who gave so much and asked for nothing in return except that i do what i believe was right. gratitude to all those who labor out of view in the corridors of this capitol building, from the maintenance crews to the capitol police and everybody else anywhere in this building, thank you for keeping our capitol
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running and keeping us safe. and gratitude, most of all, of course, to my family for the love, support and inspiration they have given me every day of my life. my parents, grandparents and siblings, my children and grandchildren, and hadassah, my wife of almost 30 years now, the love of my life who has been my constant companion, supporter and partner through this amazing adventure. and so i want to begin this farewell speech by simply saying thank you all. i have a lot to be grateful for. but, mr. president, being a senator -- and since this is my farewell speech, i do have a few more things i'd like to say. i am leaving the senate at a moment in our history when america faces daunting challenges, both domestic and foreign, and when too often our
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problems seem greater than our government's ability to solve them. but i can tell you that i remain deeply optimistic about america's future and constantly inspired by the special destiny that i'm convinced is ours as americans. my optimism is based not in theory or hope but in american history and in personal experience. i think particularly about my time in public life and especially the changes that i have witnessed since i took the oath of office as a senator on january 3, 1989. the fact is that over the past quarter century, america and the world have become freer and more prosperous. the iron curtain was peacefully torn down, and the soviet empire defeated. the eternal values of freedom and opportunity on which america was founded and for which we
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still stand have made global gains that were once unimaginable. we have seen the spread of democracy from central europe to southeast asia and from latin america to the middle east. hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in places like china, india and just about every other corner of the globe. and technological advances have transformed almost every aspect of our daily lives. when i started here in the senate, a blackberry was a fruit and tweeting was something only birds did. no more. none of these extraordinary developments happened by accident. in fact, to a significant degree, i would say they were made possible by the principled leadership of the united states, internationalm thatmy and
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america created our diplomacy and protected with our military, and by the unique culture of freedom, innovation and entrepreneurship that flourishes in our country and that remains the model and inspiration for the rest of the modernizing world. we have every reason to be proud of the progress of humanity that has happened on america's watch. and here at home to be grateful for the countless ways in which our own country has been benefited in the process. we live in a world whose shape and trajectory the united states more than any other nation is responsible for. it's not a perfect world, i know that, but it is a better world than the one we inherited, and in my opinion, it is actually in so many ways a better world than has ever existed before. here at home over the past
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quarter century, we have moved closer to the more perfect union our founders sought, becoming a more free and open society in ways i would guess those same founders never could have imagined. barriers of discrimination and bigotry that just a few decades ago seemed immovable have been broken and doors of opportunity have been opened wider for all americans, regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability. during my time here in washington, we have had our first female secretary of state nominated and confirmed and our first african-american president elected and re-elected. it will forever remain one of my deepest honors that thanks to vice president gore i was given the opportunity to be the first jewish american nominated by a major political party for national office. and incidentally, thanks to the
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american people, grateful to have received a half million more votes than my opponent on the other side, but that's a longer story. so while there is still much work to do and many problems to be solved, i believe we can and should approach our future with a confidence that is based on the real and substantial progress we have made together. what's required now is to solve the urgent problems we still have, and what's really required to do that is leadership, leadership of the kind that's never easy or common but which we as americans know we can summon in times of need because we have summoned it before. today i regret to say as i leave the senate that the greatest obstacle that i see standing between us and the brighter american future we all want is
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right here in washington. it's the partisan polarization of our politics which prevents us from making the principled compromises on which progress in a democracy depends, and right now which prevents us from restoring our fiscal solvency as a nation. we need bipartisan leadership to break the gridlock in washington that will unleash all the potential that is in the american people. and so i would respectfully make this appeal to my colleagues, especially the 12 new senators who will take the oath of office for the first time next month. i know how hard each of you has worked to get elected to the united states senate. and i know that you work so hard because you wanted to come here to make a difference for the better. there is no magic or mystery
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about the way to do so in the u.s. senate. it requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the opposite party. it means ultimately putting the interests of country and constituents ahead of the dictates of party and ideology. when i look back at my own career, the legislative achievements i'm proudest to have been part of, like passing the clean air act in 1990, stopping the genocide in the balkans, creating the 9/11 commission and the department of homeland security, reforming the intelligence community, reorganizing fema and refeeling don't ask, don't tell, all were achieved only because a critical mass of democrats and republicans found common ground. and that is what is desperately needed in washington now to solve our nation's biggest
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problems and address our biggest challenges before they become crises or catastrophes. our future also depends on our nation continuing to exercise another kind of leadership, and that is leadership beyond our borders. this, too, has never been easy or popular. americans have rarely been eager to entangle ourselves abroad, especially at times when we have faced economic difficulties at home as we do now, there has been the temptation to turn inward, to tell ourselves that the problems of the world are not our responsibility or that we cannot afford to do anything about them. in fact, the prosperity, security and freedom of the american people depend more than ever before on what's happening in the rest of the world, and so, too, does the rest of the world depend especially on us. i know we can't solve all of the planet's problems by ourselves
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nor should we try, but the fact is that none of the biggest problems facing the world can or will be solved in the absence of american leadership, and here, too, i appeal to my senate colleagues, and again especially those who will take the oath of office for the first time early in january. do not listen to the political consultants or others who tell you that you shouldn't spend time on foreign affairs or national security. they're wrong. the american people need us, the senate, to stay engaged economically, diplomatically and militarily in an ever smaller world. do not underestimate the impact you could have by getting involved in matters of foreign policy and national security. whether by using your voice to stand in solidarity with those who are struggling for the american ideal of freedom in
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their own countries across the globe or working to strengthen the foreign policy and national security institutions of our own country or by rallying our citizens to embrace the role that we as a country must play on the world stage as both our interests and our values demand. none of the challenges we face today in a still dangerous world is beyond our ability to meet. just as we ended the ethnic cleansing in the balkans, we can stop the slaughter in syria. just as we nurtured the democratic transitions after communism fell in central and eastern europe, we can support the forces of freedom in the middle east today. and just as we were able to prevail in the long struggle against the soviet union during the cold war, we can prevail in the global conflict with islamist extremism and terrorism that we were forced into by the
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terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001. but all that, too, will require leadership in the united states senate. it will require leaders who will stand against the siren song of isolationism, who will defend our defense and foreign assistance budgets, who will support, when necessary, the use of america's military power against our enemies in the world and who will have the patience and determination when the public grows weary to see our battles through until they are won. mr. president, i first set foot in this chamber almost exactly 50 years ago, in the summer of 1963. enfired like so many of my generation by president john f. kennedy and his call to service. i spent that summer right here in the senate as an intern for my home state senator, abe
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ribakov. he was and remains a personal hero of mine. and although i never would have admitted so publicly back then because it was so presumptuous, i came away from that experience with the dream that i might someday, somehow return to serve in this place. well, i have been blessed to live that dream, and that is what america is all about. we have always been a nation of dreamers whose destiny is determined only by the bounds of our own imagination and by our willingness to work hard to realize what we have imagined. indeed, long before the united states came into being as a government of institutions and laws, it was a dream, a dream, an an implausible and animated dream of a country not defined by its borders or its rulers or
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the ethnicity of its founders but by a set of eternal and universal principles that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are god's endowment to each of us. that was the dream that gave us our existence and our purpose as a nation, and it is the dream that for more than 200 years, through every passing generation, has been reinventing, renewing, enthralling and surprising us, the very dreamers who are living that dream. i leave this chamber as full of faith in the dream called america as when i stood here nearly a quarter of a century ago to take the oath of office for the first time. and as when i first came here nearly a half century ago as a 21-year-old, the grandchild of four immigrants to america, the son of wonderful parents who never had the opportunity even to go to college but made sure that my sisters and i did and gave us the confidence to pursue
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our dreams which was their american dream for us. america remains a land of dreams and a nation of dreamers. i know that my own story repeats itself today in millions of american families and their children, and as long as that is so, i know that our best days as a country are still ahead of us. and so, mr. president, i will end my remarks today where our country began a long time ago -- with a dream and a prayer that god will continue to bless the united states of america. i thank the chair and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i will have a lot more to say about my friend from connecticut in the next few days, but in the meantime, i want to thank him for a very important and a very visionary
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and a very wonderful statement. we thank him for it. i yield. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i want to thank my colleague and friend from connecticut on behalf of all the people of our state for his lifetime of public service. our lives have been intertwined personally and professionally for almost 40 years and i had the privilege of coming to know senator lieberman's family, his parents, who gave him the values and ideals that he has expressed so eloquently and powerfully repeatedly throughout america as he did today on the floor of the united states senate, and that dream, which they inspired, is indeed a
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uniquely american dream. but it is rooted also in the stamford and connecticut community that we share, the ideals of faith, education, intellect that he has exemplified and those -- and those qualities of independence and courage and perseverance in the face of adversity that he has so embodied and taught so many young people and others around our state and around the country, and, of course, the ideals and goals of civility and maybe most important for this body, the ideal of public service. which he has exemplified through all of these years, and unremitting, unstinting, unwavering commitment to making the world a better place, person by person, individual by
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individual, helping make america equal to that great ideal and dream that he has articulated so eloquently. i have been privileged also to know joe's wife hadassah who has added so extraordinarily to his life and made possible so many ofs achievements and this tribute is to her and his family as well as to him. for the past two years, i've had the privilege of working with senator lieberman, a real honor, and i look forward to continuing my work with him, although it will no longer be in this chamber, just as i worked with him before reaching here, following in a sense his professional path as a state senator, as attorney general, and now here.
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many of our colleagues will come to the floor in these remaining days of this session to commemorate the tremendous legacy that he leaves. and it is a legacy of action, not just of words as we have heard today, but action. and achievement. he's been a steadfast supporter of family planning and a woman's right to choose, raising awareness and garnering commitment of congressional colleagues for that cause. he has been a champion of equality and justice, exemplified, for example, in his advocacy of repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." he's been a leader on environmental conservation as attorney general of our state, as well as in this body. especially in the fight to protect long island sound, a treasure of connecticut and the entire nation. and he was a leader in bringing to this chamber, to the floor,
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one of the first bills on climate change. his legacy will live on in these efforts. the clean air and water that he's helped to protect, the urgency with which he's fought to protect our natural treasures in connecticut and around the country. and his spirit of environmental stewardship that will inspire generations to come. and that ideal of stewardship is also articulated by his remarks here, the stewardship of democracy, of our republic. one of senator lieberman's signature accomplishments has been the creation of the department of homeland security, which he aimed to consolidate disparate agencies to allow interagency
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communication in the wake of 9/11. he made that a mission and he achieved it as chairman of the committee of homeland security and government affairs as well as a leader on the armed services committee and on that committee, armed services, he has championed a strong and vital national defense which remains as essential now as it has been throughout his career. i'm grateful to senator lieberman's support for a bill that i recently introduced, the end trafficking in contracting act which addresses the problem of human contracting by federal contractors and subcontractors and his support for that measure i think demonstrates again his commitment not only to equality but helping and working with others in this body who share his goals on a bipartisan basis, as that measure has been
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and was and will be, as is the cause of ending human trafficking and achieving human rights. and most recently in a very personal way, i observed senator lieberman's deep empathy for people who are victims of natural catastrophe when the recent spate of storms struck connecticut. irene and sandy. i toured with him places, seeing in his eyes and in his voice his sense of how individuals and their families are affected by this kind of natural disaster. he is a person of heart and of soul, of big heart and a soul that reaches out to people. so i thank him for his great work, his contribution, his
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unstinting generosity to the people of our state, connecticut, through all of his years of service in many different positions, in many different ways, in a myriad of places throughout our state and throughout our nation, and i thank my connecticut colleague for dedicating his life to public service. i look forward to being with him if not in this chamber, in many other places around the country, and continuing to admire his great contributions to our country as well as to our state. thank you, senator lieberman. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska is recognized. mr. nelson: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, i rise today to thank the people of my great state of nebraska. it's been a tremendous honor to have had the opportunity to serve the state for 20 years. eight as governor and 12 as united states senator. the people of nebraska are generous and hard-working and it truly has been a privilege to have served and represented them. you know, i'd also like to thank my parents, berdella and
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benjamin nelson. raising me, they instilled in me the values i tried to embrace and which served me as guiding principles in both public and in private. i especially want to thank my family for their unwavering love and support. as my colleagues know, public service requires our families to sacrifice. so i sincerely thank my wife diane, our five children and grandkids for their patience and understanding. while it's hard to walk away from this body, i must say that i'm looking forward to getting to spend more time with my family. as a public official, the lens through which i have always tried to view decisions is how will the policy or this vote or this decision impact my
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community, my state, and my country? this focus and advocacy for my home state has resulted in both praise and criticism at various times but i stand here today proud of the accomplishments achieved over the last 12 years and grateful, grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by the people of nebraska. arriving in the senate in 2001, i recall thinking about what one of my predecessors in this body, ed zorinski used to say. he said that the biggest problem in washington is that there are too many democratic senators and too many republican senators, there are not enough united states senators. unquestionably, my proudest moments in the senate are those efforts that were bipartisan and pursued by a collective motive, to get the best possible result while maintaining the dignity of this institution. probably the most straightforward example of this
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work is the compromise achieved by the gang of 14. as many of my colleagues will recall, in 2005 there were several judicial nominees presented to the senate for its consideration but which had not yet received an up-or-down vote. the majority leader at the time, senator frist of tennessee, was considering what became known as the so-called nuclear option, which would have changed the senate's rules so that the minority party couldn't filibuster a judicial nominee. there was a great deal of concern at the time about how this would impact the senate's long-standing tradition of majority rule while recognizing minority rights. and what this would mean to the way the senate conducted its business in the future. at that time, senator lott and i convened 12 of our colleagues, six additional democrats and six additional republicans. together, we met and exchanged ideas about how to find a
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sensible way forward that would satisfy all 14 senators such that each would agree the senate was dutifully carrying out its advise and consent responsibility without unduly restraining the minority to when it found a nominee objectionable or unfit to serve. ultimately an agreement was reached by this bipartisan group, there was not a rules change and in the midst of a highly partisan environment the senate moved forward in a positive way and i believe we did the right thing. senator robert byrd of west virginia was a critical member of the gang of 14. in addition to his many, many accomplishments over the years, everyone knew then and knows now that there isn't anyone more well versed in the history of the senate or who was more protective of it as an institution. and i'll never forget that after the agreement was finalized and
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we were all sitting in a room, senator byrd said that he was proud of the work accomplished and that we -- quote -- "saved the senate." hearing those words from the distinguished senator byrd was undoubtedly one of the proudest moments of my career. and besides senator byrd, i've had the opportunity to serve with so many dedicated public servants in this body. i'd like to thank all of them. i start name so, i'll leave some out. so i just want to thank all present and past members of the senate that i've worked with and thank them for the occasion that i've had to work with them so closely. i also share the sentiment that many of my colleagues have noted in their farewell addresses, that of appreciation for the efforts of staff. over the last 12 years, i have worked with an incredibly dedicated and talented collection of individuals. we call on our staff to do a lot
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of work, often in a very stressful environment, so i want to thank everyone who has worked in my offices back home and the office in d.c. over the last 12 years for the work they've done on behalf of our office and for the state of nebraska. and if i were to leave this body with one thought and hope for the future, it would be this. congress needs to change its math. by that, i mean members of congress should be more concerned about addition and multiplication and less involved in division and subtraction that seems to overtake this institution at times. my hope is that in the process of doing this, that congress and our nation will have a stronger desire to find solutions for the country's greatest challenges more so than any effort to try to drive our citizenry apart. and with that, i will just say one more time, thank you to my
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family, to my staff, to my colleagues and most especially to the people of nebraska. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nebraska is recognized. a senator: thank you, mr. president. it is my honor today to rise and pay tribute to my colleague from nebraska, ben nelson. we were visiting last night -- the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. a senator: excuse me. mr. president, i ask that we set aside the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator is recognized. a senator: thank you, mr. president. mr. johanns johanns: mr. presidi rise today to pay tribute to my colleague, ben nelson. in fact, we had an opportunity to visit last night and i -- i said to senator nelson, i have spent a significant part of my
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career following jobs that he had done. i was the mayor of lincoln when ben nelson was the governor of nebraska, and i became the governor of nebraska as he was completing his two terms. and then i joined him in the united states senate before that worked with him as the secretary of agriculture. i can tell you from firsthand experience that ben nelson always had the best interests of our state at heart. he was enormously hardworking. in fact, i don't hesitate to admit for a second that when i came to the governor's office, i found the state to be in excellent shape. he often would joke about how he was tighter than three coats of paint, and i think that's absolutely true. he tended to business, he balanced the budget, he made sure that money was set aside in the rainy-day fund because we in nebraska know that there are going to be days where it might
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rain. and he just did a great job as governor. i will also say that when he came to the senate, we worked hand in hand on a number of issues when i was governor and he was the united states senator. when we became colleagues in the senate, that working relationship continued. i'm very, very pleased to rise today and say to the people of nebraska that there was never a time -- never a time -- where partisan differences ever impacted or interfered with our ability to work together. senator nelson was always looking for a way to move the state forward and to move our country forward. so i just wanted to come here today and say to the senator from nebraska, my colleague, thank you for your service. we appreciate it. we wish you the very best. and i just have a sense that
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we're going to have an opportunity to work together in future years. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president, may i ask unanimous consent that the pending quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator is recognized. mr. whitehouse: thank you very much. may i ask permission to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator is recognized. mr. whitehouse: thank you. mr. president, there are many signs of the fundamental,
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measurable changes that we are causing in the earth's climate, mainly through our large-scale emission of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. these are irreversible changes, at least in the short-run, so we should take them very seriously. over the last 250 years, the global annual average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased from 280 parts her million to 390 parts per million. that is a 30% increase. we have recent direct measurements that the carbon dioxide increased by 15% just since 1980 when it was 339. 1980, 339; now 390. that's just a dozen years in which the concentration of co2
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in our atmosphere has increased by more than 50 parts per million. 50 parts per million is a big shift, if you're not aware of the scales that we're talking about here. for 8,000 centuries -- 800,000 years, longer than homo sapiens have existed on the face of the earth -- we can measure that the carbon concentration has fluctuated, a total range of 130 parts per million, the total range for 8,000 centuries. and now we're outside of that range up to 390, and we've moved 50 points just since 1980, just in a number of decades. so the consequences are going to
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be profound, and perhaps no consequence of that carbon pollution will be as profound as the increasing acidification of the world's oceans. science, of course, has known since the civil war era -- and most of us understand -- that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere creates a warmer atmosphere, known as the greenhouse effect. there's nothing new about that. but not all of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity by our use of fossil fuels stays in the atmosphere. carbon dioxide is soluble in water, and the oceans cover 70% of the earth. where the atmosphere is in contact with the oceans, a portion of the carbon dioxide in
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the atmosphere dissolves into the oceans, reacts with the sea water and increases the overall acidity of the oceans. there is sometimes quarrel and debate about complex modeling of climate and atmospheric projections, but evidence of ocean acidification is simple to measure and understand. indeed, even the small, noisy chorus of climate change deniers and corporate polluters are noticeably quiet on the issue of ocean acidification, because they simply cannot explain away the facts. national oceanic and atmospheric sigscientists gauge that over te past 200 years, hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide have been absorbed into the oceans.
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nasa, which is able to put, for instance, a man on the moon and a rover onto mars and has scientists there that can accomplish those achievements, nasa reports that -- "the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year." noaa scientists say the oceans are taking up about 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per hour. so in more or less the time my remarks are concluded, the equivalent of more than the weight of the washington monument of carbon will have been dumped into our oceans. all of the extra carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the
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oceans has caused the global ph of the upper ocean water to change, a nearly 30% increase in the acidity of the oceans. and, as you can see, the curve is not only upward but steepening. where is it headed? by the end of this century, it's projected that we'll have a 160% rise in ocean acidity. as you can see, not only are the oceans becoming more acid, but they are becoming more acidic at a very rapid pace. the rate of change in ocean acidity is already thought to be faster than at any time in the past 50 million years. now, i talk when i give this weekly speech from time to time
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about the 800,000 years that our planet has had a carbon dioxide concentration between 170 and 300 parts per million. and how long a time period that is compared to, say, humankind having mastery of fire, humankind having engaged in agriculture, humankind even existing, as homosapience. it's longer than all of those things. but that's just measuring in the hundreds of thousands of years. we are talking about a rate of increased carbon concentration and ocean acidity climbing faster than at any time in the past 50 million years. what does that mean? well, a paper published in the judgjournal "science" earlier ts year concluded that the current
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rate of carbon dioxide emission could drive chemical changes in our oceans that are unparalleled in at least the last 300 million years. we're back into geologic time now, since we saw that kind of an effect. the authors warned that we may be -- quote -- "entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change." well, when your range of view is in the hundreds of millions of years and the authors are talking about entering unknown territory, that's really saying something. and here's what dr. peter brewer, the senior scientist at the monterey bay aquarium institute has to say. let me quote him. "the outcome is very clear that we are in uncharted territory in the entire span of earth
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history. the primary cause of this is simply the rate of co2 change. we are changing earth far, far faster than any recorded geologic shift ever." repeat, "we are changing earth far, far faster than any recorded geologic shift ever." well, what does this mean for marine life? well, as the ph of sea water drops, so does the saturation of calcium carbonate, which is the compound found in the sea water that aquatic animals use for the construction of their shells and of their skeletons. some sea creatures absorb calcium carbonate directly from the water.
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others ingest it through their food and through their bodies, it works tout build their shells. -- it works out to build their shells. but lower concentrations of calcium carbonate is not as available to these species, and it becomes more difficult for them to make their shells. species like oysters, crabs, lobsters, corals, and the plankton that comprise the very base of the oceanic food web. we've seen this happen in real life already with the disaster that befell the pacific northwest oyster hatcheries when acidic water came in and killed off all the juveniles that were being grown. over a billion people on this planet rely on marine protein as their primary source of protein, and then of course there are the countless jobs that depend on fisheries, on tourism, on
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restaurants, boat building, maintenance, shipping -- the list goes o the presiding office-- the list goes on.the pm maryland, another ocean state. he is clearly aware of the importance of that ocean economy. work as thingwith aswell, as thr these species to survive, soon or later it will get harder for the economies that they support. let me tell you about a type of snail that is about the size of a very small peavment the pteropod is also known as the sea butterfly because its foot has adapted into two butte butterfly-like wings which allow it to propel itself around in the ocean. these images show what it happen to the pteropod shell when the creature's underwater environment is lacking in those
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compounds and becomes more acidic. that's not good for the pteropods. another study compared pteropods incubated in sea water with today's ph to pteropods incubated in water with the acidity and chemical conditions predicted for the year 2100. the study found a 28% decrease in shell growth. maintaining their shells against that acidity requires energy, energy that would otherwise go into other biologic processes like growth or reproduction. so increasin increasing ocean as an irainternal stress that maket harder for the pteropod to survive. so who cares about the lowly pteropod? well, salmon do. 47% of the diet of some salmon species in the pacific is
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pteropods. and the salmon fisheries that support coastal jobs and economies care about the salmon. ocean fishing in the u.s. overall is a multibillion-dollar industry connected to hundreds of thousands of livelihoods and we should care about our fisheries industry. , even if you don't care about the salmon or the lowly pteropod. these unprecedented changes in ocean acidity are not happening alone unfortunately. ne come along with dramatically changing ocean temperature which is also driven by the same carbon pollution. recently noaa proposed releasing 66 species of corral as endangered citing disease, warmer seas and greater ocean
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acidification. when you add to those three conditions the preexisting stressors like nutrient pollution and destructive fishing practices, well, 35% of the world's reefs are classified as in a critical or threatened stage. scientific projections indicate that coral reef ecosystems could be eliminated in 30 to 50 years. the young pages who are here on the floor of this senate listening to this speech may very well live into a time when coral reefs and the ecosystem surrounding them are extinct. the death and decline of coral reefs, which are the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, in turn wounds hundreds of other species that call the reefs home. when a reef ecosystem collapses and does not recover, it quickly becomes dominated by algae and the rich mix of species
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developed over hundreds, millions of years that was once present there then disappears. scientists think that the coral reefs off the coast of papau, new guinea offer a window into new effects of ocean acidification because there there are natural emissions of carbon dioxide that bubble up from the sea floor through the ocean and raise the concentration making the seawater more acidic. researchers have found that many species, especially the more complex framework-building corals which provide shelter to other organisms, do not thrive where the p.h. is lower. these are two photographs taken in the same reef. you can see how rich and vibrant this reef looks like away from the carbon dioxide leak. here and here the carbon dioxide leak where the acid is higher, it's a shadow of the healthy
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reef. mr. president, the human-driven acidification of the ocean is capable of causing, indeed is destined to cause if we do nothing, a serious imbalance in the ocean's complex ecology. the external stress of carbon pollution will result in a new equilibrium in ocean ecosystems. when you consider what this portends for our food security, for our planet's biodiversity, and economically for ocean-based industries, we really cannot afford to ignore these changes that are happening and are measurable in our oceans. unfortunately, ignoring is exactly what we are doing by failing to curb carbon
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pollution. there are high stakes involved. our oceans cover 70% of the planet. we cannot change their chemistry without expecting profound consequences. it is time we realize that we are in fact part of the very food chain being disrupted by the mounting acidification of the oceans. the disruption of international fishing due to climate change and acidification threatens to destabilize local and global economies and compromise a major, basic food source. how much -- how much -- are we willing to sacrifice for the luxury of letting corporate polluters foul our planet with unchecked co2 emissions? carbon pollution from fossil fuels is depleting the health of the oceans as well as affecting
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the atmosphere. and unless we take serious action to reverse course, the consequences may be dire. we are sleepwalking through history. i i implore my colleagues to hed the clear and persistent warnings that nature is giving us, to acknowledge the responsibility presented to us in this moment and to respond appropriately before it is too late. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: thank you, mr. president. a week ago i visited with my colleagues about the necessity of taking a closer look at the problems of medicare and taking advantage of the opportunity we have now with the fiscal cliff debate to bring attention to it because i don't think it's getting enough attention. there's no greater threat to america's growth and prosperity than our uncontrolled national debt. currently the country posts -- country's debt exceeds $16 trillion. we face the so-called fiscal cliff that could send our economy into another recession. in these difficult times we're
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challenged by people we represent to find real solutions, not short-term band-aids. as we move forward, it's clear that we must discuss spending. emphasize that word "spending." i know that president obama is hyperfocussed on increasing taxes as part of his deficit-reduction proposal, and i think the the election shows that he's legitimate in doing that. but he could have really declared victory about three weeks ago and in the three weeks since then spend time talking about the expenditure side of the ledger. because if we're going to be serious about reducing our debt, we must talk about spending. not some time next year, not only after we talk about taxes. we must talk about spending and talk about it now.
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we need to have a thoughtful conversation that focuses upon where federal spending most calls for control and containment, and that's the purpose of my charts today. and that's the purpose of my remarks. and we must have a thoughtful conversation where our federal spending is taking us. it is past time for the president to engage on health care entitlements with proposals that affect the long-term growth of health care cost. and i'm going to try to dissect this issue into divisions and point out where the problems are. the first division i'll do is in the total government spending with everything except the interest on the national debt.
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and i divide into three, three parts here. by the way, this chart is from the congressional budget office. it's not something i put together. and it details, as i said, noninterest spending as a percentage of the gross national product. you can see health care, social security and other noninterest spending. so you can see over the period of the next 25 years fairly level, noninterest spending. you can see -- you can see that social security, even though it has funding problems over the next 25 years is going to be fairly constant as well. but, when you get the health care costs, you can see a very
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dramatic rise. i suppose i should have had this on bigger charts so it would be more dramatic than maybe it shows here. but medicare dramatic increases. medicaid, increases, but not quite as much as medicare. so this is the problem that i want to address today. and even though this chart only goes out 25 years, the social security or the board of trustees that focus 75 years ahead on social security and medicare, if this chart went out 75 years just on medicare, it would show about a $40 trillion deficit. that's what the trustees review every year and give us a new figure on every year. so it's very dramatic increases compared to other parts of the federal government spending.
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so i want you to look closely at these longer-term projections as i proceed with some other division of this problem and segmenting the issue of health care, medicare and medicaid. so i think it's pretty clear that we must address the growth of health care entitlements. and i don't think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle can walk away from the issue. we should start by looking at where we are spending the most money in our health care entitlements. and this next chart that we'll put up here divides this into three categories: medicare only health care costs, medicaid only health care costs, and then what we call the duels.
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the duels are people that qualify for both medicaid and medicare. the middle group, as i said, dually eligible account for just over 10% of the entire medicare-medicaid population. but you can see by the chart that the amount of money that's spent on that 10% is much greater than either medicare only or medicaid only. when we talk about the need to find ways to control spending for these dual eligibles, it is for a good reason. they are poor, they're sicker and more often they're in need of more extensive as well as expensive coordinated care. the inefficiency created in a
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misaligned incentives of medicare and medicaid is frequently cited as one of the areas in health care and in the greatest need of improvement not only for the quality of health care but also maybe better care-taker of the taxpayers' money. obamacare created an office and c.m.s. charged with creating demonstration projects to allow for greater coordination of dual eligibles. those demonstration projects have been moving forward at breakneck pace with nearly half of the states looking to participate. essentially all demonstrations under obamacare seek to give states greater control of the acute care of the dual eligibles. in other words, of this group here. c.m.s. has the incredibly broad
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legal authority under obamacare to take these demonstrations nationally if they are successful. no one argues that the way medicare and medicaid coordinates the dual eligibles works very well. coordination today is akin to asking me and somebody else to oppose a letter with the other person writing the consonants and my writing the vowels. giving the straight straighter control over duals may be a good answer. some states might do a good job, but when you consider the fiscal challenges faced by the states, this should be a decision considered by congress examining all possible alternatives and in consultation with states rather than something occurring through this regulatory action that that
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would seem either obamacare and what c.m.s. is doing with these demonstration projects. furthermore, moving more responsibility to the states may miss a real opportunity to address an even larger cost problem. while some dual eligibles are expensive and need extensive long-term support and services, there are dual eligibles who in fact are relatively low cost. more importantly, though, is that not all the expensive medicare beneficiaries are duly eligible. so take a look at this chart. in this chart, we see the most expensive individuals in the medicare program. these are beneficiaries who have multiple chronic conditions and functional impayments. 57% of them are eligible for
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medicare only. 43% are the dually eligible for medicare and medicaid. now, we have numerous studies showing that the care for high-cost medicare-only beneficiaries are just as complex and the quality of care calls for as much attention as that of the dual eligibles. so then legitimately ask the question why are we splitting these two groups? these are two groups of similarly situated individuals. they all have need for improved care. they all have multiple conditions that are very expensive. why do we tell some people you get medicare solely because you have income, income that doesn't qualify for medicaid. and then we tell some people
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that you should get medicaid solely because you don't have enough income. why is it a good idea to give states control over poor beneficiaries and why should low-income beneficiaries get one of 50 different models to coordinate their care and people with income, higher incomes get medicare only? why is c.m.s. pushing states to take a greater role with a complex, expensive population when they are also being asked to find the resources to cover poor individuals in medicaid and develop exchanges to cover people in the private market. congress should consider what states should do in health care and what are reasonable expectations from those states. congress should involve states in this conversation.
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if congress wants states to administer benefits for the aged, blind and disabled and low-income individuals along with managing the exchanges for individuals with incomes over -- or up to 400% of poverty, congress can do so. if health care is the primary responsibility of states, it is because of decisions made by this congress. states are being asked to do so much in health care while also overseeing education, public safety, roads, bridges and meet in most cases a balanced budget requirement. so i think the congress needs to step back and ask where the states are best able to focus on health care. we should ask states when we look at the long-term spending growth of our health care entitlements, we should use this as an opportunity to reconsider
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the role of the states in providing health care coverage. what we ask of the states should be thoughtfully considered in any discussion. i know that there are people telling us we shouldn't talk about health care entitlements now. president obama hasn't come to the table yet on this issue. we don't have a choice. all you have to do is look at the numbers that i have given you, look at the spending. we only make the problem worse by putting it off. we can solve federal dollars -- or we can save federal dollars by extracting more from beneficiaries, providers and the states, but that's not going to do the main thing that we need to do. when we talk about health care changes. and it's the very same thing that we went through when obama
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was being considered by a bipartisan group and was probably considered by the people that wrote the partisan bill that's now law. that we have got to do things to change the long-term growth curve of medicare or health care costs generally. and it happens that there has been a law now passed, partisan as it was, that really doesn't solve that problem. we got a chance to look at it again, at least from the medicare standpoint when we deal with medicare reform. and that needs to be done right now. we have to talk about solutions to actually lower the growth curve and do it sooner than later. we're $16 trillion in debt. one of every four dollars we will spend in this next decade will be on medicare and medicaid.
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and when you get further down the road than ten years, it's going to grow even more dramatically. we will see health care entitlements double as a percentage of g.d.p. in the next 25 years, and i said the trustees look ahead 75 years, and it's even a bigger problem out there 75 years out. if we want medicare and medicaid to not only survive -- and i do -- but we also want it to thrive for the next generation, we need to be willing to ask fundamental questions and seek solutions that can affect the growth curve. i sincerely hope that we're able to look for solution that is can make a real difference. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent for the chamber to give privileges of the floor to my intern, mark suzuki, for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i take this time to share the views of many people that i've talked to in maryland, i'm sure the same is being said in oregon and around the nation, people are frustrated by the inability
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of congress to come together on solving the fiscal cliff, the so-called fiscal cliff. we understand that this needs to be avoided. going off the fiscal cliff could cause a major damage to our economy. if we take no action by january 1, as i'm sure most people are now aware, tax rates will go back for all taxpayers to the pre-bush tax rates. the alternative minimum tax that shields tens of millions of americans from paying extra income taxes will expire and millions of americans will be subject to extra taxes. the unemployment insurance program will come, the extended benefit program will come to a halt, the payroll tax holiday will end and individuals' take-home pay will be reduced. we have a serious problem on medicare reimbursement to our
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physicians. they would be subjected to a significant cut, close to 30% which would have an impact on seniors and our disabled population having access to physician care. and we would go through what's known as sequestration which is across-the-board cuts to almost all federal programs ranging from 8% to about 10% across the board cuts. that would have a major impact on our entire country. we've looked at the numbers in maryland and could be as many as 60,000 jobs lost in our own state of maryland. we have a large federal work force, 5.6% of our workers work for the federal government. that type of across-the-board cut would have an incredible impact, negative impact on the people of maryland and throughout the entire country. we have got to avoid that. the impact on our economy is estimated to be about 3%, we
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would go from positive growth to negative growth throwing us into recession. i understand the frustration why so close to tend of the year we haven't resolved these issues. we should come together, work together to get it done. but i want to point out to the people i represent in maryland and the people of this nation that we've got to get this done right. there's a lot at stake here. we've got to make sure that our country can grow, that we can create the jobs we need to be competitive in the future. we must make sure that we deal with this budget crisis in a way that allows us to investigate in -- invest in education and job training and rebuilding our highways, our bridges, our energy grids. we have to make sure that we can compete as a nation. that's why so many of us have said that we have to have a balanced approach to dealing with the fiscal cliff. now, this morning, mr. president, i listened to speaker boehner where he said the ball is in the president's
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court. i couldn't disagree more with the speaker of the house. and i think it's important to point out that since we've been working on trying to deal with this deficit issue, we have already agreed to over a trillion dollars of cuts in spending. it's in discretionary domestic spending, some of the most challenging areas that affects our most vulnerable people. we've implemented that. this is since the recommendations of the simpson-bowles commission came out. we took action. we imposed caps on discretionary dome spending. our federal work force has been through years, a couple years of pay freezes. we've seen programs that have been cut back on the support that they give people who need help. so we've already contributed on the spending side. is it enough? no. do we need to do more? absolutely. but we've done that.
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the next piece that must be done is the revenue piece. you can't have a balanced approach unless you have the revenues. smeen of my colleagues -- so many of my colleagues have talked about this. historically our revenues are around 20% of our economy. they're now in the 15% range. so we have a way to do it. the senate has come together on a way to do this. the senate has passed legislation that's been in the house of representatives where speaker boehner is the speaker of the house. it's been in the shows now for -- house now for months. what that legislation does, first it gives predictability to the taxpayers of this country. it says that your first $250,000 of taxable income will be subject to the current tax rates and will not go back to the pre-bush tax rates.
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that gives certainty to the taxpayers of this country. i've heard people say that affects 98% of the taxpayers in this country. mr. president, you know it affects 100% of the taxpayers of this country. i want to stress that. if we pass the bill that was sent to -- by the senate to the house that continues in january the -- the tax rates, the current tax rates for taxable income up to $250,000, yes, for persons such as a typical taxpayer in baltimore city, $20,000 to $30,000 of income, they'll safe $1,400 in taxes. yes, for a taxpayer has $40,000 to $65,000 of taxable income, they'll safe $2,000. but guess what. if you have $250,000 of taxable income, you save about $7,000,
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if you have $500 of taxable income you save that same $7,000. if you have a million dollars of taxable income, you get that tax break also. so it affects 100% of the taxpayers of this country. but what we're saying is, we have to have some revenue in this equation. we understand that. and those are the most well off, do they really deserve larger tax breaks than that? i would suggest not. and it's not just the tax rates that we sent over to the house of representatives. we also corrected the marriage penalty so that wouldn't change on january 1, the child credit, the a.m.t., the alternative minimum tax. i mentioned it a little bit earlier. the alternative minimum tax, if we don't correct, tens of millions of americans will pay extra taxes in the thousands of dollars starting january 1.
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i've heard many debates on the floor of the senate and in the house where no one wants that to happen. well, pass the bill we sent over to the senate. if we do that, then taxpayers don't have to worry about those rates going up. and it gives them a little bit of confidence, hopefully before christmas, to make the season a happier season for all. now, this is a balanced approach, as i said before. we started with spending cuts, we've done that. the next step, speaker boehner is the deal with the revenue side. if we pass -- if the house passes the senate bill, it provides about $850 billion in revenue from not extending additional tax relief for those whose incomes are above $250,000. we already did over a trillion dollars of discretionary
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domestic spending cuts, $850 billion of revenue, that's not enough. we're going to need more revenue. it's not going to be easy to find but by closing looms we can get additional loopholes, we talked about tax reform, we can get additional revenues from tax reform. but then it comes to additional savings. we agree we can get additional savings. i've taken the floor and talked about the fact we know in our military budget we are bringing our troops home from afghanistan. mr. president, i applaud your efforts to try try to get those troops home sooner. i agree with you, from afghanistan. but our troops are coming home. and our baseline budget reflects a much higher troop level, active troop level than we need. we call it the overseas contingency accounts and we know there are savings there that can be cheefd that we can use -- achieved that we can use on a balanced approach to bring our budget under better control. we also believe as we've gone through a base realignment and
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closure here in the united states, why don't we do that throughout the world? that can save us some money in the military budget. so there is military savings that can be achieved. and yes, we can and must achieve savings on the entitlement side. i was living to my friend from -- listening to my friend from iowa talking about the cost of health care. i agree with him. health care costs have gone up too dramatically. we have to bring down the cost of health care. we started with the affordable health care act by investing and preventing remissions to hospitals and deal with high cost interventions. that will help us bring down the cost of health care. we've got to do more in that regard. if we bring down the cost of health care, we save money on medicare, we save money on medicaid, we save taxpayer costs but also help our economy. what a lot of us are concerned about is trying to shift the cost to beneficiaries. that doesn't help our economy.
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and that doesn't help solve the problem. so, mr. president, i take the floor now just to challenge speaker boehner, it's time for him to act on the bill that we sent over months ago. let us take the next step and let us work together and develop a framework so that our committees can work and achieve policy changes that can bring in additional revenues we're going to need, additional savings we know we're going to achieve, we can do that by working together. there are so many people in our community that are frustrated we haven't gotten this done now and i share that frustration. we should have gotten this done a long time ago. i agree with them but let's now move this week by passing the -- the house passing the bill we sent them providing predictability for the taxpayers of this country going into this holiday season, knowing next year that the rates will not be increased, particularly in this fragile economy. let us set up a framework where we can responsibly work to
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reduce health care costs, greater -- i agree with that, reduce military spending and do what's right in a balanced approach to get our budget under better billion to -- balance to create the jobs that we need. the most important thing for to us do is have the climate where we can create more jobs and the type of jobs we want, invest in education, construction, etc. that's what we need to do, come together, democrats and republicans to get the job done. i urge my colleagues, let's work, get this done as soon as possible. and, mr. president, i would first ask unanimous consent that morning business be extended until 4:00 p.m. with all other provisions of the previous order remaining in effect. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: i see my distinguished colleague from utah on the floor and i'll yield the floor and look forward to listening to his comments.
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mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i thank my good colleague and i've enjoyed listening to his comments. mr. president, one thing people admire about firefighters is when others are running away from a burning building, they run toward it. conversely, while most people avoid cliffs, president obama and the democratic leadership are racing to go over the fiscal cliff thelma and louise style. here we go. absent action by congress and leadership by the president at the end of the year, almost every federal income tax pear in america will see an increase in rates. some will see a rate increase of 9% while others will see a rate increase of 87%. though not o discussed and though the president likes to avoid discussing it the impact. these rate hikes will have a uniquely damaging impact on small businesses and the jobs that they provide. small businesses are the engine
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of jobs creation in our economy. and the rate hikes the president insists on will hit them hard undermining economic growth and hampering innovation and job creation. whether we go over the fiscal cliff or whether the president gets his way on raising taxes, tax rates, that is, taxes will go up significantly on small businesses. the president would like us to think that raising these taxes is no big deal. it will just hit people who already have a lot of money and who can -- quote -- "afford to give a little more." as president obama put it in using his own finances as an example, absent tax increases -- quote -- "i'm able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that i don't need." with due respect, this is an amazingly naive understanding of tax rates and their impact on economic growth. it assumes that all of the people hit by these higher tax
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rates are wealthy wage earners, c.e.o.'s, and financiers. it completely neglects the impact on small business income that will be subject to these individual rate hikes. here we are christmastime and the democrats want santa to put coal in the socks of all the small business people. even president obama acknowledges that two-thirds of the new jobs in our economy are created by small businesses and the vast majority of small businesses are organized as flow-through businesses or what we call flow-through business entities, such as partnerships, s-corporations, limited liability companies and sole proprietorships. in other words, these small businesses pay the individual income tax rates, because the vast majority of small businesses are flow-through business entities, the income from these businesses flow --
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flows through the business directly on to the -- to the small business owners' individual tax returns. therefore, any increase in individuals' tax rates means those small businesses get hit with a tax increase. this tax increase lands on those small business owners even if they do not take one penny out of their business profits. and they put it all back in to be able to hire more people or to get more inventory or whatever that helps their business along. even if a small business reinvests all of its income to hire more workers, pay the workers they already have, or purchase equipment, they will still get hit with this looming tax hike. the president and those in his party who support these rate hikes owe it to the american people to explain why their proposal will not adversely impact small businesses and those that depends on them for their livelihoods. because the data suggests that
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the impact will be severe, there'there's no question about, why can't we get the real facts here? first, according to the congressional budget office, 80% of the revenue lost from extending the 2001 and 2003 tax relief provisions is found among those making less than $200,000 per year if single and $250,000 if married, the president's threshold. second, the nonpartisan official score people -- score keeper for congress on tax issues, the joint committee on taxation, tells us that 53% of all flow-through business income would be subject to the president's proposed tax hikes. 53%. this is our joint of taxation -- on taxation, which is a nonprofit -- excuse me, is a
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nonpartisan committee. 53% of all flow-through business income is subject to tax hikes on the top two rates. well, given the agreed-upon importance of small business to our economic recovery, it is a mystery to me why the president and his democratic allies would pursue tax increases on these job creators. we simply cannot afford to raise taxes on over half of all this small business income. president obama and congressional democrats defend their plan by claiming that only 3% of small businesses would get hit with this tax increase so we should not fear in raising taxes on them. however, they are misreading the joint committee on taxation letter on this issue. that letter only talks about the percentage of taxpayers affected, not the percentage of businesses affected. for instance, if ten people own one business, president obama and congressional democrats count that one business as ten businesses when they make their
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statement about a small percentage of businesses affected. obviously that is not the right way to look at this. the truth is that they don't know what percentage of businesses they are proposing to raise taxes on. and what's worse, they don't really seem to care. the i.r.s. publishes its statistics of income data on its web site, providing the most recent available tax data which is currently tax year 2010. according to that official i.r.s. data, when looking at the entire united states, 21% of owners of s-corporations and partnerships, including limited liability companies, make $200,000 or more. since president obama's proposed rate hikes occur on singles making $200,000 or more and married couples making $250,000 or more, the vast majority of this 21% would get hit with a
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tax increase. the only portion of this 21% of s-corporation and partnership owners that would not be hit with a tax hike are those that are married and make between $200,000 and $250,000. according to a 2011 ernst & young study entitled, "the flow-through business sector and tax reform," citing 2007 data from the u.s. census bureau, over 44 million workers employed by s-corporations and partnerships, including limited liability companies -- that is over 60% of the 69 million employees that work for flow-through businesses -- are going to get hurt. so almost 21% of s-corporation and partnership owners will be subject to the tax hikes on the top two rates and over 64% of the workers in flow-through businesses are found in these types of businesses. and this is before we even consider the impact on owners of sole proprietorships which employ the remaining 36% of
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employees in the flow-through sector. so when the federal government takes an additional 5% of the money that these small businesses earn, the effects are clear. far from this being, as the president suggests, money business owners don't need, it will, in fact, lead to lost jo jobs, stagnant or reduced wages, and a decrease in investment. the president campaigned on raising the top rates and he seems bent on doing so, but he owes it to the american families to come clean about the impact these hikes on the economy -- will have on the economy and on jobs. he should come clean and just admit that his desire for redistribution trump all other considerations. the debate over the fiscal cliff has been quite discouraging for me. the president knows why it is that republicans support full extension of current tax policy.
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and it is not because we are trying to defend the so-called rich. it is because we have a genuine and empirically grounded concern about the impact of marginal tax rates on small businesses. the jobs they create and the men, women and families that depend on them. i could care less about the truly rich. instead of acknowledging that marginal rate hikes would have an outsized impact on small businesses, the president has decided instead to demagogue this issue, paint republicans as out of touch, and put political points ahead of jobs. it is well past time for a grown-up conversation about tax policy. our door remains open and we look forward to having the president walk through it. mr. president, i'd also like to take a few minutes to discuss a matter of great importance in the trade arena. last week the senate approved legislation granting permanent normal trade relations to russia
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and moldova by a vote of 92-4. such a strong vote would not have been possible without bipartisan cooperation from my senate colleagues. i would once again like to express my appreciation to all the republican members of the finance committee who worked with me and my staff in good faith to develop a strong enforcement package which addresses many of the concerns we all have with our bilateral trade relations with russia. i also want to again express my appreciation for the hard work and cooperation of senator baucus, the chairman of the committee -- of the finance committee. the process we undertook in the finance committee is emblematic of how the finance committee should work. it is my sincere hope that this will be a model for future legislation. unfortunately, things don't always work so smoothly. in fact, i was quite disturbed to receive a letter earlier this week from ambassador kirk, our trade ambassador, informing me that the obama administration
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tends to support approval of the proposed terms for tajikistan -- for tajikistan's accession and the invitation for tajikistan to become a member of the w.t.o. at the upcoming w.t.o. general counsel meeting. now, let me be clear, i support efforts to help advance the rule of law by bringing countries such as tajikistan into the world trade organization. what disturbs me is that the administration had been negotiating the w.t.o. accession package for over a year and failed to even mention it to anyone on the senate finance committee. even more troubling is the fact that the final w.t.o. working party meeting took place on october 26, 2012, at which tajikistan's proposed protocol of accession was completed. yet no one in the senate received any information about the accession until last week. why the obama administration
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waived five additional weeks -- or waited five additional weeks after completing tajikistan's w.t.o. accession negotiations before notifying the committee is really a mystery to me. for an administration that touts its commitment to transparency and unprecedented consultations with congress, their failure to consult with the finance committee and the senate on the items of tajikistan's proposed accession protocol reveals that the administration's bold pronouncements about their excellent consultations are nothing more than empty rhetoric. moreover, section 122 of the uruguay round of -- round agreements act requires the administration to consult with the senate committee on finance before any vote is taken by the w.t.o. relating to the accession of a new member. while sending to -- sending a letter to the committee a mere week before a vote is taken in the w.t.o., and after the terms of the accession are already contemplated, might technically
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comply with the letter of the law, it in no way complies with the spirit of the law. had congress been notified of tajikistan's pending invitation to join the w.t.o. earlier, it might have been possible to include provisions granting tajikistan permanent normal trade relations along with the russia and moldova bills. but that was not possible. in fact, the obama administration's lack of transparency and failure to meaningfully consult with congress rendered that impossible. as we continue to try to work with the obama administration to develop policies and advance legislation which create economic growth and open new markets for u.s. workers and job creators, the administration must engage in meaningful consultations. accordingly, i would expect that the way that the tajikistan accession has been handled by the obama administration will be an exception and not the norm regarding future consultations.
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to help ensure that is the case, i will soon sending a letter to the office of the u.s. trade representative with some detailed questions regarding their consultations with congress and the private sector trade advisory committees. it is vitally important that we bring more transparency to this process, so i sincerely hope we receive a detailed and substantive response soon. i also hope we can soon begin t have a meaningful discussion with the administration about their plans for renewing trade promotion authority. as most of my colleagues know, trade promotion authority is an important tool which helps us pry open foreign markets to u.s. exports. every president since f.d.r. has sought trade promotion authority from congress. despite its critical importance, the administration keeps putting off any meaningful discussion of renewal. in fact, when ambassador kirk testified before the finance committee last march, i offered
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to sit down with him that day to start talking about w.t.a. renewal -- talking about t.p.a. renewal. he declined my offer. instead, he said he would be happy to sit down with me and members of the finance committee about t.p.a. rule at the -- quote -- "appropriate time." since that time, there's been no administration dialogue with me or with the finance committee about t.p.a. even though the obama administration intends to include the transpacific partnership negotiations, conclude those by october of next year, and is considering launching negotiations for a free trade agreement with the european union as early as next month. frankly, both of these initiatives are going to require t.p.a. in order to be successful. while t.p.a. should have been renewed long ago, we currently cannot wait any longer. if these trade initiatives are going to succeed, we cannot continue to keep putting them off.
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mr. president, time for the administration to start meaningful consultations with congress on t.p.a. renewal is now, and i'd like to see more corporation. in this congress we've seen the korean free trade agreement, we've seen the colom colombian e trade agreement and the panamanian agreement, we've need pntr with russia. those wouldn't have happened if we hadn't pushed on the finance committee to get them done. in my opinion, the administration has been slow-walking all of those. those mean balance of trade positives for our companies here in america, and i tight see us playing a-- and i hate to see us playing along in dilltories ways with these -- in deleterious ways with these agreements. we need to get real with international trade. we need to be able to compete with anybody in the world and we
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are able to if given the chance. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i have come to the floor to discuss legislation we could actually pass. i'm not talking about the fiscal cliff or sequester, anything quite so heavy. but, nevertheless, quite important. it's got bipartisan support, already been passed out of the agriculture committee, passed out of the house of representatives by 300 votes, but it has yet to be brought to the senate floor for debate. that debate could being over with in half an hour the majority leader talks about bipartisan support for
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legislation and hurdles to bringing bipartisan legislation to the floor. obviously we have them. but i want to remind the senate that this bill has already passed the house, as i have said, with broad, bipartisan support, and again with over 300 votes. that doesn't happen often in the house of representatives these days. and it passed out of the senate ag committee with bipartisan support, didn't even need to have a hearing. but yet the majority leader has not allowed this come to to the floor without a vote. i would urge him to do that. i am talk about h.r. about the g regulatory burdens act of 2011. how could anybody be opposed to that? and it has been pending before the senate for 17 months. that's long enough. that's certainly long overdue. this bill was placed on the senate calendar on june 21 in 2011. we need to pass this bill.
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we need to debate it very quickly and pass this bill. it's a short bill, but it is very critical to address a court decision that endangers the public health in and places additional paperwork burdens on states that are facing very, very difficult budget times. let me be clear. i am not saying -- this is a pesticide bill, a pesticide safety bill, pesticides that are used to protect our crops and to protect our public safety. i'm not saying -- nobody is saying -- nobody ever will say that pesticides should not be regulated. i just don't think it needs to be done twice. h.r. 872 does not alter pesticide regulation. pesticide applications are subject to the terms that are printed on a product label, as approved by the environmental protection agency. it is against the law to apply pesticides in a manner that does not comply with the e.p.a.'s approval.
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last december 25 of our colleagues wrote to our majority leader and our republican leader requesting an open debate on h.r. 872, a bipartisan bill, and i would like to submit a copy of this letter in the record at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. roberts: despite bipartisan requests for consideration, the bill failed to be considered before regulatory requirements went into effect last year. now, we're already seeing costs to states, to communities, and to businesses that total up millions of dollars. regulations now in effect are tomduplicative -- hard word to y -- 35-cent word; that means we don't need it. we already have a bill in plashingplace.these regulationse
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businesses to a paperwork exercise. the centers for disease control and prevention reports over 5,000 cases of west nile virus this year and sadly over 230 deaths. that's not right. pesticide applications are currently and should be continued regulated under something called:15 parks the federal insecticide, function fe and rodenticide act. this bill does what all of our constituents are telling us to do -- that is, to protect human health and eliminate duplicative, unnecessary regulatory actions. additional paperwork and permitting process that states and pesticide applicators must undertake provides no additional environmental protection. let me repeat that. no additional environmental protection -- zip, zero. it's just additional environmental review. the e.p.a. estimates that
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approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators will need permits to cover about 5.6 million applications per year. public health officials, farmers, other pesticide applicators under this regulatory impact would not be facing these requirements, if the administration had chosen to vigorously defend its long-standing policy that the protections under the federal pesticide law were sufficient to protect the environment. again, estimates suggest this duplicative regulation will require 365,000 individuals, a requirement that will cost $50 million and require one million hours per year to implement. just to fill out the paperwork. bottom line: it will not add any environmental protection. this layer of red tape will place a huge financial burden on the shoulders of cities, of counties, farm families all
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across the country, as well as state governments responsible for enforcement, while statement facing dire budget situations. and beyond agency enforcement, it will also now be exposed to the threat of litigation under the clean waters citizens suit provisions. i think you got the real key as to where this bill was headed. some of you might say that there are special exemptions for public health emergencies, but environmental groups are challenging emergency actions taken this summer. to address the mosquito-born illnesses such as eastern econvene encephalitis, not something to take an action against if you are faced with one of these kinds of threats. yet, we just haven't been able to move h.r. 872 to come up for a vote despite clear bipartisan support. it seems to me congress must act
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to end this regulatory duplication and clarify to states that they do not need to undertake this additional burden when they are trying to prioritize staffing and resources. so i ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill to protect human health and to put an end to this very costly regulation with regard to the bill. again, it is h.r. 872, passed the house by over 300 votes, bipartisan support in the ag, didn't even are to have a hearing. let's move this bill. it's something we need do. it makes sense. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. i see my dear friend from iowa about to take the floor, so i will not ask for a quorum call. mr. harkin: i thank my friend from kansas. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. harass mr. president, i come to the floor today -- harass mr. president, i come to the floor today to give some
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perspective on the so-called fiscal cliff. mr. harkin: the so-called fiscal cliff is a misnomer. what it reflects is the certain that unless we act, our economy is going to be hit by a significant austerity in 2013, not at 12:01 on january 1, but over the course of a year. so it's not a cliff. it's more like if we don't do something we're going to start onon a slope. but we're not falling off any cliff at 12:01 a.m. on january 1. fortunately, there's an easy way to address one of the major parts of this puzzle; that the senate earlier this year passed a tax relief bill for the middle class. it would extend for one full year all of the bush-era tax cuts on middle-class families. now, that's sitting in front of the house of representatives. president obama has said, if
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they pick it up and pass it tomorrow, i'll put my pen to tot immediately. that's one thing that could be done right now. but the house republicans will not take it up. i say, if they were to take it up today -- they are not doing anything over there anyway -- pick it up today, pass it, the president signings it, i sigh you're going to see a -- i think you're going to see middle-class families do a little more christmas shopping and that'll help spur our economy. i would point out that some of my friends on the other side of the aisle here and in the house have been talking about do that very thing. so there are some republicans that recognize that this would be one of the best things we could do; that is, pass the middle-class tax cut that we passed here in july. nonetheless, i keep hearing that what we really need to do to drove the so-called fiscal cliff -- to address the so-called fiscal cliff to enact
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significant entitlement reform. now, what does that mean, "entitlement reform?" when you hear our friends the republicans and others talk about entitlement reform, they're talking about three things: cutting social security, cutting medicare, and cutting medicaid. that's it. that's what they're talking about. for example, let's take a look at social security. it's become an article of faith almost among a lot of people around this city and some think tanks and others that one of the ways to reduce the national debt is to, quote, "reform social security." but that's really fishy, because social security can pay full benefits -- full benefits, 100% -- until 2033. and, by law, it is not allowed to add to the deficit or debt. so, therefore, it's not driving our long-term debt.
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so what's israelil really going? i think one of the ways to pig it out is look closely at the proposals under consideration. if you look closely, you'll find that almost all of these so-called serious proposals to save social security, is you save it by cutting it. now, for one instance, one proposal is to raise the retirement age so that har hardk hardworking americans have to work even longer before they can retire and claim their full benefits. work i would remind people that -- well, i would remind people that we already raised th the retirement age from 65 to 67 in the 1980's. that's being phased in right now. that bowles commission, they witness to traywant to raise it. i would remind people that life expectancies at age 65, the
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amount of time you're going to live after you reach 65, has not grown equally among all americans. not surprisingly, higher-income americans have seen much larger gains in life expectancy after 65 than low- and moderate-income families. so, you raise the retirement age for social security, you help those who have money, and you hurt those who don't. that's exactly what it is. hurt low- and moderate-mcamericans who work at some of the most physically demanding jobs in our economy. it hits them the hardest. so we can just dismiss that. i was just looking at the list of people proposing that we raise the retirement age. bowles-simpson, the third way, lloyd blankfein, c.e.o. of goldman sachs -- how about that? i think he is a he in his 70's.
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he's still working making gazillions of dollars a year. but he wants to raise the retirement age on people who don't have cushy jobs likes a got. senator coburn's budget, the heritage foundation, cato institute, the republican study committee, the ryan budget by the way, and we know what the voters of america thought about the ryan budget. : anyway, a whole list of people there that are saying we've got to raise the retirement age. well, look and see what kind of jobs they got, what kind of work they do during their lifetime. another proposal we've heard about to try to fix social security is to base future cost-of-living adjustments, the cola's, on the so-called chained c.p.i. chained c.p.i., that's a phrase you're hearing more and more of. it basically reduces annual cost-of-living adjustments.
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it's nothing more than a benefit kuft that uses a major cost of inflation that faces seniors even more purely than the current measurement. the chained c.p.i. would result in an average benefit cut of $136 per year for a 65-year-old. however, because of compounding, the benefit cut would increase to an average of $560 per year less for a 75-year-old retiree. that's a severe benefit cut, particularly for the oldest americans who are most likely to have gone through all of their own retirement savings and must rely totally on social security. furthermore, the chained c.p.i. is not a more accurate way to measure inflation. rather, it more accurately measures the degree to which people are reducing their costs. as a result it can mask big changes in the quality of life
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for americans. i've talked at town meetings and talked to other people about kha*eupb c.p.i. -- chained c.p.i. you're an elderly person, you're on social security. because of heating costs or because of maybe some medical costs or whatever, you found that your budget's pretty tight. so instead of buying beef for dinner, you decide to buy some chicken. so you reduce your cost a little bit. well, chained c.p.i. would look at that and say, okay, since your costs have come down, we'll reduce your cola. well, okay, you've got your cola reduced, you're sort of locked in there. then you say, my budget's still a little tight. i'll go to beans. now you've gone from beef to chicken. now you're eating beans. well, the chained c.p.i. would say you're eating beans. that means your costs are down.
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we'll reduce your cola even further. pretty soon you're reduced to drinking warm water for soup and the cola's keep coming down even more. that's what chained c.p.i. does to an elderly person. don't be fooled by it. don't be fooled by a fancy chained c.p.i. i say chained c.p.i. is like you're on a boat, you've got to swim to shore and someone puts a log chain around your ankle and says swim. they're going to drag you to the bottom. chained c.p.i. chains you, drags you down. mr. president, there are long-term challenges confronting the social security system. we know that. the baby boomers are retiring. we have fewer workers paying into the system. we've known this is coming. we've seen it coming for decades. that's why we created the trust fund in the first place. as i said and i repeat, the trust fund pays 100% benefits until 2033, 21 years from now.
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okay. what happens in 2033? a lot of people say the social security seupl is going to go bell -- system is going to go belly up. what happens? unless changes are made, in 2033 the social security trust fund will pay off 75% of anticipated benefits. well, now, what happens if we reduce unemployment, i ask? what if we reduce unemployment from its present 7.7% down to 4%? guess what? that 2033 goes up to 2040, 2050 and beyond. because you have more people paying into the system because they're working. so one of the best ways to fix social security is let's get jobs back for people in this country. and that's why a lot of us who are committed to strengthening, honestly strengthening social security resist our saying no,
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don't put social security in any part of a grand par began. should have -- a grand bargain. should have no part of it whatsoever. there are approaches that can strengthen social security. i happen to be privileged to chair the health, education, labor and pensions committee. we've had hearings on this. quite frankly, one of the ways is legislation that i introduced earlier this year that would provide seniors with greater economic security. my proposal does it three ways. first, we actually raise the amount of social security that people get by $65 a month. you might say how can that save? i thought we were supposed to cut benefits, not increase them. i say there's a way. increase it by $65 a month. you might say to an upper-income person, $65 is not much. but to someone who is paid into
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the minimum amount of social security, low-wage jobs most of their life, $65 over a year can be quite a bit. secondly, my proposal ensures that colas better really reflect the cost of living for seniors than what we presently do right now, and we certainly don't do chained c.p.i. how do we do this? thirdly, by applying the payroll tax to every dollar of eligible earnings by removing the so-called wage cap. we don't do it over one kwraoeur. we do it -- over one year. we do it over ten. phase it in over ten years. for the life of me, i've never been able to understand why is it fair, why is it he equitabley for someone who is making $50,000 a year to pay their payroll taxes on every dollar they earn? but for someone who's making $500,000 a year, they only pay
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payroll taxes on the first 20 cents of every dollar they earn. the rest of the 80 cents they pay no payroll taxes on. so we've talked about this for a long time. we've never done it. it's time to remove the wage cap. that allows to us pay $65 more per month per person and according to the trustees of the social security trust fund, the 100% benefit that would expire in 2033 and go to 75% would be extended to 2050. just by those. we extend the life to 2050, $65 more per month per person and make it fair by making sure everyone pays into the trust fund on every dollar they earn. these are the kind of changes we should consider as part of any effort to reform social security. but regrettably, i don't hear those who want to put social
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security on the table as part of a deficit-reduction package calling for these types of reforms. they want to just cut benefits. that's all. mr. president, as we work to resolve the fiscal cliff and our long-term deficits, our core principle should be that we need a resolution that is good for the middle class, and that starts with strengthening and protecting programs like social security. it also means we should take this opportunity to continue to support hardworking families, creating jobs, particularly through programs like infrastructure investment. we should also continue to provide help to working americans by giving them more money in their pocket to spend and drive the economy forward. like the middle-class tax cut that i justified talked about at the beginning here. however, we must not continue the payroll tax cut of the last two years because of the threat that it poses to the integrity of social security. remember two years ago the
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response to help middle-class families through tough times, we reduced the amount that they pay into social security from 6.4% to 4.4%. two percent. and to make up for that, we put money from the general fund into social security trust fund; first time we've ever done that. i said it was wrong then, and i still say it was wrong. then we extended it for one year, until the end of this year. and i thought that would be the end of it. now i'm hearing some voices say we ought to extend this payroll tax cut. two of the critical strengths of social security is that it is universal and it's sefpl funded. -- and it's self-funded. no dollar paid in benefits comes from any source other than the payroll tax. as such, social security does not add one dime to our deficit. that fact alone is a strong argument for those of us
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defending social security from misguided attempts to cut the system in the name of deficit reduction. we have often said, i've often argued social security doesn't add one dime to the deficit. never has. however, if we're taking money out of the general fund, which we know is borrowed money, and we're putting that into the trust fund, then the trust fund is now taking money that is borrowed. no longer can we say that every dime paid out of that is from the payroll tax that's coming from the general fund. i think we made a mistake in doing that two years ago and extending it. now is the time, it must not be extended. and i for one will do whatever i can as a united states senator to stop -- to stop -- the extension of the payroll tax cut in order to help solve the deficit and in order to help
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middle-class families. so how can we help middle-class families? very easy. first of all, pass the tax cut extension that we have before the house. secondly, rather than cutting payroll taxes by 2%, we should -- we should have what i call the make work pay tax credit that we did under the american recovery reinvestment act. that credit provided working americans with $400 per person, $800 per couple both in 2009 and in 2010, and we can adjust that. we can adjust that credit double to $1,600 per couple to replace the payroll tax cuts. i'm saying as you put the 2% back up, where everyone pays back in at 6.4%, what we do on the other side is we provide for
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a make work pay tax credit that goes to people who are working, because obviously you don't get the 2% payroll tax cut if you're not working. and the make work pay tax credit would also go to those who are working and make it exactly the same amount of money as you had on the social security payroll tax cut. this would have a greater bang for the buck because it would better target working americans of modest means who tend to spend more of what they get back. let me just basically say what i mean by that. under the social security payroll tax cut, the 2% cut, the maximum amount of money you would get would be at the highest level you pay into social security, which is $110,000 on your payroll of $110,000, so you get $2,200 back. that's for someone making at least $110,000 a year.
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if you're making $20,000 a year, you'd only get $400 back. so the higher your income, the more you get back. the lower your income, the less. topsy tur have -- vy. it should be the other way around. with this tax credit, you do. you get more that goes to people that are making $40,000, $50,000, $60,000, $70,000, $80,000 a year than you do to high-income tax people. that's why the make work tax credit is better. we can move forward with an agenda that will strengthen the middle class or we can be dragged backward by misguided possible that consign us to additional decades of unequal growth, stagnant wages for hardworking families. i stand ready to work with any of my senate colleagues to reduce the deficit and reduce
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the debt but not at the expense of hardworking middle-class families who make this country the great country that it is. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: mr. president, i ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: thank you, mr. president. i appreciate it. i'm here to introduce a bill that would address entitlement reforms and the debt ceiling called the dollar for dollar act. i continue to hope that speaker boehner and president obama will negotiate a deal north of $4 trillion before year end, but i think we should also prepare now for the possibility that they will not, especially based on recent conversations. the next opportunity we have to make the structural transform alternative -- transformative to
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medicare and medicaid will be during the debt ceiling vote which will be coming up right after the first of the year as soon as we get back. i'm introducing dollar for dollar legislation that will raise the debt ceiling by roughly $1 trillion in exchange for roughly $1 trillion in reforms to social security, medicare and medicaid. this puts into legislative language many of the concepts laid out in bipartisan simpson-bowles and domenici-rivlin proposals. this bill meets our obligations to older and younger americans. young americans expect us to solve our fiscal issues so they aren't saddled with debt and robbed of their opportunity for the american dream, and seniors expect us to honor the commitments that we have made to them. if we act now, we will be addressing the debt ceiling more than three months before we reach it. let me walk through those
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changes that are well known to policymakers in congress and the administration, and i will begin with medicare. medicare's trust fund has $27 trillion in unfunded liabilities and is expected to be insolvent by the year 2024. according to an urban institute study, an average income, married family will contribute about $119,000 in payroll taxes to medicare in today's dollars over their lifetime and consume about $357,000 in today's dollars in medicare benefits. obviously, this is unsustainable. everybody in this room knows this. the pages in front of me know that. medicare needs to be structured in a way to provide care for current and future beneficiaries in a fiscally responsible manner. this bill would structurally transform medicare, keeping fee-for-service medicare in place forever while having it
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compete side by side with a reformed medicare advantage program called medicare total health. seniors would maintain the option of choosing fee-for-service medicare or a private plan as they do today. i think most of us know that about 25% of the people in our country that are on medicare are in a private plan today. the competition created by these reforms would significantly reduce medicare costs by $290 billion, and this is very important, without a spending cap on the program. this proposal is similar to one backed by former bill clinton budget director alice rivlin. in addition, this bill would update cost-sharing requirements to reflect a 21st century health care practices like capping out-of-pocket expenditures for beneficiaries and unifying deductibles and coinsurance structures. this bill also would improve solvency by requiring higher
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income beneficiaries to pay more for their premiums. finally, it would raise the eligibility age incrementally from 65 to 67 by the year 2027. moving to medicaid, the bill would provide increased flexibility for states to achieve medicaid savings by establishing a waiver process for the states to better manage their medicaid programs. it also would eliminate a massive tax gimmick used to bilk federal taxpayers out of $50 billion over a ten-year period. next let me walk through social security changes. although some have suggested we should ignore the impending crisis in social security funding, we should address it now because it is already beginning to cause the federal government to spend more than it takes in and the social security trust fund is projected to be exhausted in the year 2033. it also will be much more
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painful to make these adjustments to achieve solvency in social security if we procrastinate. in order to return the program to long-term solvency, the bill would enhance the progressivity of benefit calculations. in addition, it would adopt chained c.p.i. in measuring inflation to calculate the annual cost of living adjustments. chain c.p.i. is the bureau of labor statistics' most modern and most accurate measure of inflation. by the way, the bill would apply chain c.p.i. governmentwide which would also affect revenues, and that would affect revenues in a positive way as it relates to our budget deficits. it would slowly raise the retirement age to better reflect longevity increases, and finally the bill would strengthen the disability insurance program by moving beneficiaries into social security insurance at an earlier age. this part of social security
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will go bankrupt by the year 2017 if we do nothing. in conclusion, i'm offering a bill that would implement structural entitlement reforms, and in exchange it would raise the debt ceiling dollar for dollar. dealing with this now would avoid facing a crisis next year when we hit that debt ceiling in february or march, which would rattle financial markets and generate tremendous uncertainty in our country and around the world. we need to get our fiscal problems behind us so that businesses, investors and all american people can have confidence about the future. if we do that, the economy will truly take off. mr. president, if i could, if one of the pages could take this to the desk, i'm introducing this. i do hope that senator reid will put in place a process through
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regular order for bills of this nature, for bills of this nature to be introduced and go through the appropriate committees. i do hope when we deal with the debt ceiling in this coming here and we do so on a dollar-for-dollar basis, just like has been recently established this last year, the precedent has been set that during this fiscal dilemma that we're dealing with when we raise the debt ceiling, we actually lower spending by a dollar. up until this point, almost all the things that we have talked about have been through discretionary spending. thus far, we really haven't addressed entitlement reforms. and again, let me reiterate that i hope the president and speaker boehner come to some accommodation over the next couple of weeks that actually deals with some, a bill maybe $4 trillion in size that would actually put this in the rearview mirror, but as the
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conversations continue and not much substance is coming forward, that is looking doubtful. so what i hope we will do is as we end this year and move into next year we'll begin to put in place an open process where as we move toward the debt ceiling and use the same precedent that we have already used right this last year, when we raise the debt ceiling by a dollar, we'll reduce spending by a dollar. we have all said that we need revenues and we need entitlement reform. madam president, what i have done today is to lay out a way -- and i know other senators will have ideas and i hope they will bring them to the floor, but i have laid out a way for us to raise the debt ceiling by around a trillion dollars and in return have entitlement reform on a dollar-for-dollar basis, saving and reforming these programs so that seniors in the future certainly will have the opportunity to continue these
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programs that you depend upon so much and the young people, the young people that are coming behind us will have the certainty that we asthma tour adults i hope have dealt with these issues in an appropriate way. so, madam president, i thank you and i yield the floor. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. corker: i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. merkley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon is recognized. mr. merkley: i ask the quorum call be set aside. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. merkley: thank you, madam president. i rise to address a critical issue for oregon's farmers and ranchers. if we turn the clock back from the most recent national disaster, that is this terrible hurricane sandy that impacted new york, new jersey and other parts, we had last summer another significant disaster,
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the worst wildfires to hit the state of oregon since the 1800's, the worst wildfires in over a century. these wildfires devastated land and livestock, yet our communities have been left stranded without the protections they normally have because of the inaction of the u.s. house and the u.s. senate. the fire burned 557,000 acres. let's translate that. that's 900 square miles of land burned this summer. the miller homestead fire burned 160,000 acres or 250 square miles. the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: could i ask my friend to yield for unanimous consent request and he could have the floor as soon as i finish? mr. merkley: absolutely. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate receives the papers with respect
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to h.r. 4310, the senate's passage of h.r. 4310 as amended be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: and further, i ask unanimous consent that the adoption of the senate amendment be vitiated and that the amendment, the text of s. 3425 as amended by the senate be modified with the changes that are at the desk, that no other amendments be in order and the senate proceed to vote in relation to the amendment as modified, that if the substitute amendment as modified is agreed to, h.r. 4310 as amended be read a third time and passed. finally, that the previous request with respect to the senate's request for conference including the appointment of conferees be agreed to with all above occurring with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, i -- mr. reid:: i ask unanimous consent that we be in a period of morning business until 5:00 p.m. today. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, of course, senators -- i'm sorry. i should have done that myself. senators be allowed to speak for
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up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i express my appreciation to my friend, the senator from oregon. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: thank you, madam president. we have had many folks coming to the floor to discuss the terrible consequences of natural disasters, and it's not long ago that i was on this floor before hurricane sandy calling for urgent, immediate action, but the challenge is that these emergency programs designed to respond to the ranchers and farmers who have lost so much land, so much forage in oregon is that those measures are in the farm bill. now, never before has the farm bill been unfinished, unaddressed while congress took their month-long break in
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august, and yet there it is, and we came back and here we are, we still have no action from the house. we can't have a conference committee because the house hasn't acted. we can't address the changes the house wants because the house hasn't acted. and who is paying the price? farmers and ranchers devastated by the worst wildfires in over 100 years. now, let me be clear. i would prefer that we pass the farm bill. but we haven't. and we can't control what the other chamber is doing. and if we don't get these key disaster relief programs, ranchers or farmers are left with few options. that's wrong. a reanchg in -- rancher in oregon already devastated by the wildfire shouldn't pay the price because the u.s. house of representatives won't bring the farm bill to the floor.
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there are farmers across the country who have been hit hard by drought and they, too, are held hostage. they need disaster assistance. very soon we are going to be talking about a very substantial disaster bill and it's appropriate that we will be doing so and i will be supporting it because the devastation that's been wrought in states like new jersey and new york is exceptional. and we as a nation need to hold hands with the citizens of these states. we need to help them restore their lives and rebuild. but we need to hold hands in partnership with the ranchers and farmers in oregon who have been devastated by these wildfires as well. and so if the house has not acted on the farm bill when we
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come to this floor to address relief for those impacted by the hurricane sandy, then i'm going to ask all my colleagues to work with me in the same partnership in which we supported folks in the south after katrina, the same partnership we will have supporting the folks in the northeast due to the consequences of hurricane sandy to support the ranchers and farmers of oregon who have been so devastated by these worst-ever fires. thank you, madam president. and i yield the floor. madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. isakson: i'd ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. isakson: madam president, i ask with respect to the consent on the senate bill referenced be shown as 3254, not s. 3425. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. isakson: and i defer to the lovely lady from maryland. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland is recognized. ms. mikulski: madam president. madam president, i rise to really comment about some wonderful men in the senate that are retiring on both sides of the aisle. earlier today i spoke about my deep affection and sorry to see go friends olympia snowe and kay bailey hutchison. but, you know, i want to rise as the dean of the women to say some very special things about very special men on both sides of the aisle.
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i'd like -- because when i came, it was only nancy kassebaum and myself, and yet we worked on so many issues together, and there are really wonderful men here that supported me, supported our issues, but really stood up for their states and their communities. i want to say goodbye to my -- aloha to my very good friend, danny akaka. he's been a real advocate not only for the people of hawaii but wow, the way he stood up for federal work force, the civil servants who do such a great job, the outstanding job he's done on the veterans committee. lives are better off, particularly for our veterans, and i want to say a wonderful, wonderful goodbye and good hug to him, because he demonstrates that you don't have to be loud to be powerful.
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i also would like to pay tribute to someone on the other side of the aisle, my very good friend and someone i admire tremendously, senator dick lugar from indiana. who doesn't admire senator lugar? a judge, a scholar. i might even add, a rhodes scholar. a definite advocate for indiana. a very -- an incredible thought leader on foreign policy. ierm si'm so proud of him and tk deand the way he reached across the aisle to work with our colleague, senator sam nunn, on their famous nunn-lugar cooperative threat reduction program. they truly worked together to begin to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the former soviet union and made the world a better and safer place. we want to wish senator lugar a fond farewell and know that he will be deeply, deeply missed. i certainly will. i valued his thought, his
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counsel, his observation, particularly in the area of foreign policy, and he taught me a little bit about farm policy, too. i also want to say a goodbye to our friend, jeff bingaman, of new mexico, someone who's always brought intellectual rigor, a lawyer's insistence on thoroughness and a real commitment to people. it's been an honor and a pleasure to work with him on the help committee, especially on the affordable care act. i was proud to support him all that he did, particularly in developing and focusing on the health work force for the future. i knew i could count on jeff in the committee and on the floor as one of those men that i refer to as the ga gallahads, where mn of quality always support we women as we sought equality. our initiatives to end discrimination against women in the health care and in the workplace were some of our proudest achievements in working together.
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i also would like to comment about jon kyl. i've worked across the aisle from jon kyl and i've been seated across the table from him at everything from bible study group to the senate intelligence committee. we studied the words of the bible together to make ourselves better and we worked in our committees to make the world better. we lived through september 11th and the terrible attack that occurred in our country and the anthrax attacks in our offices. with his steady leadership, his resourceful mind, his can-do know-how, we will work together to get a job done. i was delighted to be able to work with him in a way that called forth our highest and better selves to look out for our country, and i wish him the best in his journey. i'd like to comment, too, about kent conrad. wow, what a numbers guy. those charts, i really love those charts. but we have many other things in common beside a love of charts.
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we love baseball. we love the baltimore orioles. and, madam chair, i might add, an occasional polka at bob's beer garden in maryland. now, you know kent, he loobs lik -- helooks like clark kent s a superman when he comes to the budget. but, wow, when they rolled out the barrel, he was quite a hoofer. most of all, what i admired about him is the way he breathed life into the numbers. he not only wanted a more frugal government, but he was also passionate and compassionate about how we could use the power of the purse to improve the world and at the same time maintain sensible spending standards. i'm going to look forward to seeing him with or without his charts and maybe in a dugout. i'd also like to say goodbye to ben nelson of nebraska, a brother appropriator. we salute him for his work and for the people of nebraska and the nation. using those committee
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assignments on appropriations, agriculture, and armed services, he looked out for rural communities and he stood up for men and women in the military. i knew he took it as a personal responsibility the issues around personnel for our military, that they had the right pay, the right equipment and we protected their benefits. another comment about herb kohl, another brother appropriator, the very essence of civility, who brought a businessman's savvy with a deep compassionate commitment to the people of wisconsin. now, we all knew the kohl fami family. they own basketball teams, they own department stores. he -- i tell you, that herb, he understood retail, whether it was in politics, fighting for the people and their day-to-day needs, or the national policy of looking out for working families as they build their lives. he stood up for wisconsin cheese, the green bay packers,
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the basketball team, but, most of all, he stood up for the people. with herb, what a sense of hon honor. his handshake was always good and you could counted on him -- and you could count on him. it was a binding, binding contract. i'd like to also say a word about senator scott brown. i've heard many -- many of you know that i was a social worker and a child abuse worker, and i want to say personally, i so admire senator brown's candor and forthcoming when he shared with the world his own child abuse experience in his book, "against all odds." he not only explained the terrible thing that happened to him, but he went on to talk about how he handled this terrible tragedy. and i must say -- and i compliment him -- that it was a model for -- that as a young boy, that this terrible event would not hold him back. i am sure that his powerful words helped many others come
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into the light. and as a former child abuse social worker, i want to thank him publicly for what he's done not only in this institution but to help other boys and even girls who faced a terrible tragedy and refused to be a victim but went on to do something. and i wish him well. to senator john we th webb, the senate's own ma expreen former secretary -- marine and former secretary of the navy.i've known him for more than 20 years since he was secretary under ronald reagan. over it is years, we fought on many issues, particularly gender equality. when senator webb was a new secretary of the navy and i was a new united states senator, we had a different view on where women should be in the military. and we duked it out. but you know what? over the years, we came to know each other, respect each other and appreciate each other's views. and i so appreciate the fact that he is unabashed,
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unrelenting, fierce fighter for our men and women in uniform. fighting for them when they're on the frontlines and when they return to the home front here. i am so proud of the fact that i could vote for his 21st century g.i. bill for those serving in the military to make sure that when they're on the frontline over there, they get the education here so they won't be on the unemployment line. some of our most significant -- his bill was the most significant legislation for veterans since world war ii. so i say to senator webb, sempre fi and god bless you. then to my good friend, joe lieberman. my friend, joe, a true independent. we've worked together on issues related to the middle east and the safety and security of israel. and we worked to bring better education into our schools because we do believe that character counts.
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working with joe, whether it was to help create national service, move national legislation, or to say that in our schools we should come to understand the need to teach respect, responsibility, fairness, and caring and citizenship. wow, these were values that should be in -- not only in our schools but in -- throughout our country. joe has been so faithful to his religious beliefs. he's also been faithful to the constitution he was sworn to uphold and to the people of connecticut. and i want him to know we so appreciate his service to connecticut and to the country. madam president, i want to be sure that the day would not end without i acknowledge these wonderful, wonderful people who have given a big part of their lives to making this country a better place. so i really want to in the most heartfelt way -- i'm so sorry we
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didn't have a bipartisan dinner or party to be able to express this. i would have liked to have been in the same room breaking bread with them in order to be able to tell them how much we appreciated them across party lines, across those lines that ordinarily divide us. they came from different parts of the country. they arrived in the senate with different objectives. they will leave under different circumstances. but i want to again let them know that each and every one of them had a positive impact on me and i think a wonderful impact on the future of this country. so we wish them well. god bless and godspeed. and, madam president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: madam president, over the past few weeks, we've been discussing the plan by the democratic leadership to break the rules of the senate in order to change the rules of the senate; in other words, the nuclear option.
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this plan would break their very clear commitment, which was given at the end of 2006, when they were still serving in the minority to respect the rights of the minority. it would break their promise to follow the golden rule. and it would break their pledge to never, ever use the nuclear option to break senate rules. they've governed in a much different way and their actions yesterday on the pending bill related to the transaction account guarantee program illustrate well the heavy-handed, my-way-or-the-highway manner of running the senate. now, senate republicans voted overwhelmingly to get on this bill. voted overwhelmingly to get on the bill. we soon found out that no deed goes unpunished. less than a minute after agreeing to adopt the motion to proceed to the bill, the democratic majority filled the amendment tree to prevent any
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senator, republican or democrat, from offering any amendments. republicans have significant on-point amendments we'd like to offer. for example, senator corker has an amendment that requires the fdic to charge the full premium necessary to cover the cost of this insurance. senator vitter has a similar amendment. senator corker also has an amendment that would make participation in the t.a.g. program voluntary so banks don't have to pay premiums for insurance they don't use. and senator wicker has an amendment that would limit the term and exposure of the extension of the t.a.g. program. other members on both sides of the aisle have additional amendments that are relevant to this bill. no senators, however, republican or democrat, will get to offer any of these amendments because of the automatic -- autocratic
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manner in which the democratic majority is handling this legislation, which is, by the way, the same way they have handled the bill -- the previous bills, nearly 70 times. within two minutes after blocking out all amendments, the democratic leadership filed cloture on the bill, so our friends could end debate on this legislation before it even began. this procedural hardball, like blocking out all amendments by filling the amendment tree, is all too common. this is the 107th time the democratic majority has moved to cut off debate on a matter, be it a bill, an amendment, or a conference report, on the very same day -- the very same day that the senate began considering the matter. and, to boot, this is a bill that never went through committee.
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like so many other bills, the senate has considered under the democratic majority, it was written behind closed doors. this has happened nearly 70 times as well. in short, what happened on this bill is a prime example of the democratic leadership's hat trick. bypass the committee process to write a bill behind closed doors, prevent anyone -- republican or democrat -- from presenting their -- from representing their constituents by offering amendments, and then move to end debate on the bill, again a bill that never went through committee and no one is allowed to amend, on the very same day the senate tanks the -e senate tanks the bill much the democratic leadership likes running the senate this way because it gives them nearly total control. nearly total control. or as they prefer to describe
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it, this approach is -- quote -- "efficient" -- end quote. now that they're no longer in the minority, this is what they believe the senate should aspire to be? one can describe this heavy-handed approach in a lot of ways, but you can't say it comports with their promise to respect minority rights. you certainly can't say it is an example of the golden rule. and you can't say it resembles anything like how the senate used to be run. how the senate is supposed to be run, and how our democratic colleagues promised they would run t the heavy-handed way the majority is handling this bill is a prime example of the fact that we don't have a rules problem around here; we have an attitude problem around here. so i would call on my democratic colleagues, especially those who are not in their leadership and
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who have the experience and wisdom that comes from serving in the minority, to work with us to get the senate back to how it's supposed to function, and i urge them not to be complicit -- complicit -- in irreparably changing the senateness an institution that -- the senate as an institution that respects the right rights. minorit-- the rights of the miny and the rights of the constituents whom the minority represents. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. barrasso: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise today to talk about the tax hikes that are going to be hitting the middle-class families all across this country, and it is going to do so in way that many americans
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do not realize. everyone in washington is talking about the fiscal cliff and the tax increases that might come from that. but today i want to talk about something different. those are the tax increases that are coming regardless of what happens with the fiscal cliff. and those are the tax hikes that we're seeing because of president obama's health care law. people who have been following this closely know that president obama's health care law guarantees that middle-class families will pay higher taxes. the president promised repea repeatedly that he would not raise taxes on the middle class. as a matter of fact he said -- quote -- "if you're a family making less than $200,00200,000a year, my plan won't raise your taxes one opiniony. not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital
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gains taxes, not any of your taxes." that's what the president said. but once he got into office, president obama arranged for his health care plan to be written behind closed doors. democrats in congress passed it, and they did it strictly along party lines. this law has included more than 20 different tax increases. these tax increases amount to more than a trillion dollars over the next ten years. of those, a dozen taxes specifically targeted middle-class taxpayers. the most famous, of course, is the individual mandate tax. that's the one that requires all americans by a governmentbuy agovernment-approe plan. if they don't, for even one single month out of the year, then they have to pay the tax. members of the senate ought to remember this one. this is the one that the
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american public still finds very unfavorable to the point that still a majority of the americans want to either change or completely eliminate and repeal the president's health care law. the law continues to be very unpopular, and one of the main reasons has to do with this tax. it is the tax that's going to hit families harder than single people, and it's going to hit the middle class harder than wealthier americans. and, you know what? that's the way it was designed. amazingly, that's the way the dmemdemocrats in this body desid the tax, to hit the middle class harder than wealthier americans. by 2016, 4.7 million low- and middle-income households will face a tax for not buying government-approved health insurance. it was entirely predid i -- pre. a lot of us on the republican
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side of the aisle did predict it, right here on the floor of the senate. well, this leads me to another aspect of the health care law that the white house and the democrats have not been eager to talk about and it is the role specifically related to this tax, and that's the role of the iraq, the internal revenue service. -- of the i.r.s., the internal revenue service. the law gives the i.r.s. -- unprecedented new powers to probe into taxpayers' lives. right after the election -- and they waited until after the election -- the obama administration started releasing a wave of new health care regulations. these include new rules on how the i.r.s. plans to implement the new health care taxes. just last week they put out proposed rules on how they're going to enforce the new medicare payroll taxes. they still haven't said exactly how they plan to enforce the individual mandate tax. but we do know -- we do know
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that i.r.s. agents are going to be verifying who bought health insurance and taxing everyone who didn't. we know the i.r.s. will be doing more tax audits for health care spending. we know the i.r.s. will be able to confiscate -- confiscate -- americans' tax returns. why? well, to pay for health care taxes. not to pay for health care, but to pay for health care taxes and to assess interest and late fees on people without insurance. we know we're going to see an army of new i.r.s. agents and auditors do what? to investigate the health insurance choices of americans and their families. the agency is going to have to collect a huge amount of data, not just from insurance companies but from the american people. the i.r.s. is going to want to know details, like the costs and the benefit structure of every
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person's health insurance policy. they're going to want to know who in each household is coondz how long they've -- is covered and how long they've been covered. they'll want to know the income that people have reported to their insurance company and what other kind of coverage their employer may have offered. to get all of this information, the internal revenue service will have to develop new layers, additional layers of red tape or businesses and for families, new forms, new filing procedures, and new instructions. and it's going to have to come up with some way for taxpayers to resolve any discrepancies, and there are going to be a lot between what their tax returns may say and the data that the insurance companies report. it is going to be a nightmare. it's not clear how the i.r.s. is going to do this, but people are certainly going to need to keep
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very careful records. it's also clear that lot of americans are going to be defending themselves against audits. all of that is work the i.r.s. is going to have to do just to get ready for this massive amount of new bureaucracy. the problem is, several independent reviews have found the agency is seriously unprepared. in one the treasury inspector general for tax administration found that the i.r.s. is not equipped -- not equipped to implement the law contained in what is called -- quote -- "the largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years." the i.r.s. hasn't even conducted a thorough review of the law that it is required to execute. as a result, the inspector general's office said it wasn't able to determine whether the i.r.s. had adequately planned for the workforce that they'll need.
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now, there were separate analyses done -- there was an analysis done by the house of representatives. they found the i.r.s. could need more than 16,000 new i.r.s. agents, new i.r.s. examiners, new i.r.s. support employees. well, you know as well as i, the american taxpayers will get hit with the bill to pay for the salaries of all of those new i.r.s. employees. the agents, the examiners, and the support employees. the american people knew what they wanted from health care reform. what they asked for is the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower cost. that's what the president and democrats promised them. turns out, what the american public has gotten is less choice, more regulations, and higher taxes. and in meeting after meeting when i visit with constituents at home in wyoming, i say how
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many of you believe under the president's health care law you're going to pay more for your health insurance, all the hand go up. i say, how many of you think that the quality and availability of your care, because of the president's health care law, is going to go down, is going to get worse? again, all the hands go up. now, what these same people are learning is that the i.r.s. is the chief federal enforcer for key parts of president obama's health care law, and the the people of my state and the people around the country do not like it at all. well, we're going to have, as a result of the health care law, a much larger internal revenue service. they're going to have broad, new powers, powers to investigate, powers to monitor, and powers to tax the american people. at the same time, there's real doubt about whether the agency is even up to the job. america's middle-class families don't wt,

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